Feb 23

Bon Secours Granted Extension

Bon Secours was granted an extension to review proposals for the historic school. Click here for the article from the Richmond Times Dispatch.

Why BOTH buildings of the Westhampton School SHOULD be saved:

As we have highlighted for you previously, the Westhampton School possesses an architectural, historic, and cultural significance that has engendered great affection for these buildings in not only the Westhampton community, but also the larger Richmond community.

  • The two historic Westhampton School buildings are important for two reasons:
    • their association with events and patterns of development important to public education in the City of Richmond during the period 1869 to the Civil Rights era of the 1960s, and
    • their architectural qualities.

 

  • The Westhampton School is unique in that it was built for, and served as, a Henrico County public school until the area was annexed by the City of Richmond in 1942. Then it became a City of Richmond school.

 

  • The Westhampton School buildings include a 1917 Colonial Revival building designed by Benjamin West Poindexter and Marcellus E. Wright Associated Architects, and a reciprocal 1930 building designed by Raymond Victor Long.
    • About the 1917 building:
      • The 1917 building was designed by Benjamin West Poindexter and Marcellus E. Wright Associated Architects for Henrico County. Marcellus E. Wright, Sr. (1881-1962) served as Chief Draftsman in 1908 for Charles M. Robinson (1867-1932), who was the Public School Architect for the City of Richmond 1910-1930. Wright then founded his own firm in 1912 and maintained a successful career designing civic and commercial buildings as well as apartment buildings and residences, but he is perhaps best known for designing the Altria Theater (formerly known as the Mosque and the Landmark Theater) in association with Robinson.
      • The two story, Colonial Revival red brick 1917 building is particularly notable for its fenestration. The number and configuration of its windows reflect the early 20th century “open air school” movement, which promoted a healthy open air school environment featuring large windows and wide hallways to facilitate air flow in order to limit the spread of disease.
      • There are relatively few schools built prior to 1919 that remain in Richmond. Most have been demolished.
    • About the 1930 building:
      • Designed by Raymond Victor Long (active 1923-1953), Architect for the State Board of Education, the 1930 building was built by the Virginia State Board of Education for Henrico County. Long designed 35 school buildings around Virginia but, to my knowledge, this is his only work in Richmond.
      • The 1930 building is unique in that it was not designed as an “addition” but rather as the second in a matched reciprocal pair of individually monumental buildings. Notably, the fenestration pattern on the 1930 building is reversed from that on the 1917 building.

 

  • These buildings hold and reflect the stories and memories of many generations of students and faculty. This is one reason so many in the community share great affection for them. Notable figures who walked these halls include:
    • Principal Ira Owens Beaty, who was the father of actors Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine.
    • Student Daisy Jane Cooper, who fought for three years before finally gaining admission in 1961 as only the third student to integrate Richmond public schools. Daisy Jane Cooper was a resident of the quiet Westwood neighborhood, an African American enclave near the Westhampton School, which was perhaps one of the earliest planned neighborhoods in Westhampton. This story was highlighted in Michael Paul Williams’ December 19, 2016 column in the Richmond Times Dispatch.

For these reasons and more, both Westhampton School buildings should be considered architecturally, historically and culturally significant structures. Both historic structures can and should be saved.