Fulton Gas Works operated for nearly 120 years, providing gas to illuminate and heat Richmond from a site near Rocketts Landing. Neglected for decades, many of its structures have been demolished. The city plans to demolish the few that remain, including an extremely rare late 19th-century gasometer and a 1937 art deco boiler house emblazoned with the Fulton Gas Works name.
The steel skeleton of the gasometer and the decorative brickwork of the boiler house represent important elements of Richmond’s industrial and manufacturing heritage. These structures facilitated the expansion and development of Richmond by providing critical jobs and infrastructure. They serve as prominent visual landmarks and create a unique and authentic sense of place for the neighborhood and the city.
Richmond officials did not solicit public comment about their plans, and now demolition permits are in process. Preservation of the gasometer and adaptive reuse of the buildings is called for in the Richmond Riverfront Plan. These structures are essential elements of our community’s historic built environment that should be saved. If the structures must be dismantled for site remediation, then the structures — particularly the gasometer — should be rebuilt in the same place. We hope citizens will reach out to Mayor Levar Stoney to save these irreplaceable structures by emailing him at [email protected]
The proposed demolition highlights the fact that the city does not have a preservation plan identifying its important historic, architectural and cultural resources. It is time for Richmond to prepare a preservation plan. We at Historic Richmond stand ready to work with the city and our neighbors throughout the community to develop a plan that can help identify, preserve, protect and promote sites throughout the city — from African American cemeteries to infrastructure like the gasometer, the Pump House and the canals, and to historic neighborhoods. We ask the community to reach out to Richmond 300 to call for a preservation plan by emailing [email protected]
What is a gasometer anyway?
A gasometer is a device used to hold gas before it is dispersed to local customers. As gas would accumulate the bladder inside the structure would fill rising to the top of the metal frame and then deflate as gas was delivered throughout the city.