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The Meredith House is the second oldest house in Jackson Ward, built before 1813. It is located at 133 West Jackson Street, Richmond, Virginia 23220, one block north of the Armory. In 2008, at the request of Historic Richmond Foundation, the city initiated spot blight abatement of property. Historic Richmond Foundation has recently bought the property from the city and will begin rehabbing the property with ARK Construction. The house will be rehabbed into 2 two bedroom apartments. See the full history of the Meredith House below.
Ark Construction, in partnership with HRF, began rehabilitation in July 2012. They will be following Section 106 guidelines and will utilize the federal and state rehabilitation tax credits.
Historic Richmond Foundation's Goals in Jackson Ward:
History of the Meredith House
Located one block north of the Armory, 133 West Jackson Street is the second oldest house in Jackson Ward. Built before 1813, 133 West Jackson Street was built for and by William Mann. Mann also built the Hawes house on Leigh Street. The house is a frame, Federal, two story, four bay townhouse. The easternmost bay is a later addition with a later porch. The house is known as the Meredith house in honor of coach maker William Meredith and his family who lived in the home from 1856-1897. It is not until the early twentieth century that the home takes its place among Richmond's African American history.
At the turn of the twentieth century, it was the home of James and Virginia Forrester. James’ father was Richard Gustavus Forrester. Richard was one of the first men of color to be elected to the Richmond Common Council and later appointed to the Richmond School Board. James’ brother, William M T Forrester, is the founder of the Order of St Luke in Richmond and later turns over the leadership to Maggie Walker.
Aside: Neighbors included W. W. Browne who was founding president of the most famous of the African-American beneficial and self-help societies, the Grand Fountain of the United Order of True Reformers. The True Reformers were chartered in 1883 to establish a mutual benefit fund. By 1889 they had opened a bank at 105 West Jackson Street (Browne's residence), the first black-organized bank to be chartered in the United States. A second major beneficial society of the period was the Independent Order of St. Luke. The St. Luke emulated the True Reformers in founding a bank, weekly magazine and varied commercial and retail enterprises. The Order had floundered until 1899, when it became the vehicle for one of the most successful careers in modern Richmond history. Maggie Walker (nee Mitchell) was the first woman bank president in the United States.
From 1913 to 1930, 133 West Jackson Street was home to the family of glazier Wesley C. Tilton. From 1932-1939, the house belonged to waiter, Benjamin F. Dean. In 1940 and for the next fifty years, the house would be occupied by Doris C. Ford and her family. In April 1940, the property was conveyed to Doris C. Ford by deed from the Brook Hill Land and Investment Company Inc. Doris C. Ford used the house as both a residence and beauty shop; she was Secretary of the Association of Black Beauticians for Virginia in the 1940s and 1950s. She held the record for the size of delegations brought to the annual convention. Ford was also an active member at Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church.
When Ford died in 1988, the property was conveyed to her daughter, Doris H. Ford. In 1986, Doris H. Ford sold the property to Wallace T. Ford and Joyce Elaine Graves. In 1990, the house passed out of the Ford family when Wallace T. Ford, Sandra Ford Mason and Joyce Ford Graves sold the property to the Task Force for Historic Preservation & the Minority Community. The conveyance was made subject to the condition that a plaque honoring Doris C. Ford be permanently displayed on the property. The plaque read: "This plaque commemorates the pioneering and homesteading spirit of Mrs. Doris C. Ford. For more than fifty years she nurtured both her entrepreneurship and family in this house beginning in 1940. She contributed to her community of Jackson Ward through Christian and civic affiliations at Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church, and as a member of the Beauticians Association which she kindled from the local to the national level."
The plaque was never made and never placed on the property. We however, intend to make the plaque and place it on the home just as the Ford's were promised. The Task Force and Preddy Ray owned the property for twenty years. According to Ray, the Task Force made several attempts to restore the property and on several occasions, but their efforts were blocked. At one point he had submitted a building permit, lined up financing in place, gained CAR approval, engaged a contractor and an engineer and was all but ready to go, and then the building permit was miraculously denied. The house caught fire in 2004. In 2008 the city initiated spot blight abatement of property. In November 2010, the City settled spot blight case with Ray, paying $76,800. The 2012 assessed value is $73 K.