Day 5: July 3, 2017
Richmond upon James

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In 2010 I spent two nights in Charlottesville and ate breakfast at three different places. I figured I'd have a tough time deciding between them this time but not so. Two have gone out of business and the third is closed on Mondays. By luck, one of the places currently getting good reviews was just down the street from my motel so that's where I went.

I got to Wes' house just about on time and, after some long-time-no-see greetings and some catching up, we set out in his car. Our first stop wasn't far away at the Branch Museum of Architecture and Design. John Kerr Branch built the 27,000 square foot residence in 1919 as not only a place to live but a place to display his extensive art collection. The house is something of an art display itself. Check out those three chimneys.

The Branch Museum is on Monument Avenue which gets its name from a number of large monuments placed at intervals in its median. In fact, the largest of the monuments is almost in front of the museum. It is a monument to the Confederacy's only president, Jefferson Davis. The other pictured monument is to Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Most, but no longer all, monuments on Monument Avenue are of men who played big roles in the Confederacy. Statues of this sort have become an endangered, or at least targeted, species of late. The statues of Monument Avenue aren't immune to criticism about being in-your-face reminders of past oppression but they are different than most. I won't try to address the difference in a paragraph but will point to a recent article that talks of it and to the Wikipedia entry on Monument Avenue.

The difference, as it almost always is, is money. The Avenue is a tourist attraction and people like me come to gaze and snap pictures. But it's not just because the statues are bigger or there are more of them. It's because Richmond isn't just another southern city. It was the capital of the Confederacy and has very real connections to all those bearded white guys. It also has a connection to the black guy with glasses. That's Arthur Ashe who was born in the city. His statue was added in 1996 amid its own controversy. Some people wonder what a black tennis player is doing on Monument Avenue while others wonder why supporters of slavery are still there in the twenty-first century. Perhaps some good will come from all that wondering.

I had never even heard of the Jefferson Hotel and was pretty much in awe from the moment we stepped inside. Namesake Thomas Jefferson stands in the first space we entered and there a gorgeous monogrammed glass dome overhead. The second space (I guess they're both lobbies.) is huge and lined with massive marble columns. Some column detail can be seen here. The last interior shot looks back toward the Jefferson statue. Rumors that scenes in Gone with the Wind were shot here are false but Margaret Mitchell did stay here while working on the novel and it seems likely that this staircase provided some inspiration. I was quite impressed by the building when we first walked up but the exterior impressed me even more after I knew what was inside.

Apartments now fill this former dairy. What a cool place to live, eh?

Here's a Thomas Jefferson designed building that is still standing. And Mr. Jefferson is standing within it. A tour had just begun when we arrived and it was near the statue of Jefferson that we caught up with them. We were just in time to be invited to look up through the empty shaft of a steam powered elevator. The elevator was added in 1896 when the building was 108 years old. The cornerstone was laid in 1785 and the building completed in 1788.

The statue of Washington is probably the best likeness we have. It was done from life by Jean-Antoine Houdon and involved a plaster mask. The dome over Washington's head is illuminated by skylights and can not be seen from outside the building. Houdon also did a bust of the Marquis de Lafayette that stands nearby. Other busts in the room include the eight U.S. presidents born in Virginia. One of them, William Henry Harrison is also counted among the eight presidents elected from Ohio. The last photo is of a statue of Robert E. Lee which stands where he did when accepting command of the Army of Virginia.

The White House of the Confederacy, where Jefferson Davis and his family lived during the war, is now surrounded by tall buildings and somewhat easy to miss. The metal sign in front of the building can be read here.

For many years the White House of the Confederacy was home to the Confederate Museum but it is now part of The American Civil War Museum and the Museum of the Confederacy is housed in one of those tall buildings nearby. Because of time, we visited only the museum and not the house.

The first picture shows the First National Flag of the Confederate States of America. It was commonly known as the Stars and Bars. This example is from the 2nd Maryland Infantry. The display in the second photo contains articles belonging to J.E.B. Stuart. The pictured example of the Confederate Battle Flag is from the 3rd Virginia Infantry. During Sherman's march to Atlanta, soldiers heated and twisted rails to prevent them being used. This particular twisted rail certainly accomplishes that. How a Union soldier came by this Confederate canteen is a good story. The last pictures are of General Lee's headquarters flag and hat.

Though my targeted departure time wasn't all that critical, it was getting nearer and we made just brief pauses at the last few sites. Saint John's Church is where Patrick Henry delivered his "liberty or death" speech in 1775.

It is believed that city planner Richard Byrd II chose the name Richmond in the 1730s because this view of the James River reminded him of the view from Richmond upon Thames in England.

When we started out I anticipated getting a picture of Wes in some appropriate and scenic setting. I'm sure such settings appeared but I didn't notice them. I realized this as we were pulling back into the garage and I asked Wes to stop and pose. It's a hasty job and not the best photo but at least I captured my guide and the anniversary edition Corvette we had just toured Richmond in. We packed a lot into a few hours. Although I've passed through the city before this was really my first time seeing it and I appreciate the introduction. Thanks, Wes.

The drive to Williamsburg on VA-5 was pleasant and scenic but I'm already posting more than enough pictures for today. Here are some photos of the Williamsburg Art Museum instead. Because I am staying at one of the Colonial Williamsburg properties and I paid a little extra for a "package", I was entitled to a pass but had to pick it up in the historic area. Because it was late in the afternoon and most things were about to close, I almost decided to wait until morning. But I needed to eat and that's where the restaurants are so I walked a bit further to get my pass. I'm very glad I did because I learned that the art museum was open late and, not wanting to waste my pass, I headed directly there.

I expected a museum filled with paintings and sculptures (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) but found a large building, most of which cannot be seen in the picture, filled with good looking "things". Even guns can be art objects and, even more obviously, so can furniture and musical instruments. Pianos and harpsichords take the artistic aspect of furniture several steps farther. Before there were Muffler Men (and Women) there were Cigar Men (and Women). See a few a bit closer here. I'll use the merry-go-round photo to end with but there is a lot more there -- including paintings and sculpture.

I'm staying at the Governor's Inn. It's the cheapest of the Williamsburg properties and is not historic in any sense at all but is within walking distance (less than 1/2 mile to Duke of Gloucester St.) of the attractions. My room is here.

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