Fulton Gas Works

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Update: April 8, 2021

Below are Historic Richmond’s comments on the demolition plan for the Fulton Gas Works site. For more information about our position and previous comments Historic Richmond has submitted to the City of Richmond, click here.

The public comment period for the demolition plan for the Fulton Gas Works site is OPEN. Please send your comments to Daniel Rifenburgh, Engineering Manager for the Department of Public Utilities, at [email protected]. The comment period ends April 15th, 2021. The demolition plan, and other information regarding the remediation project, can be found here.

A public meeting will be held with City officials to discuss the demolition plan for the Fulton Gas Works site on Monday, April 19, 2021 at 6:30 pm via Microsoft Teams. The public meeting will be held by the Department of Public Utilities. You should register to attend this meeting by emailing Daniel Rifenburgh at [email protected] before April 15th. After registering, you will receive the electronic link to the meeting.

Historic Richmond Comments on the Demolition Plan:

We understand that the Fulton Gas Works site is a part of a remediation program under the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (Virginia Voluntary Remediation Program) and that a number of environmental assessments have been completed and have been provided via the website Natural Gas Utility | Richmond (rva.gov). We also understand that, according to the Site Characterization Plan prepared by Timmons Group on May 30, 2017, provided on that website “the proposed demolition of the remaining structures of the former facility will offer great advances toward site remediation by providing mechanisms for source removal.” However, we also note that none of the reports provided on the website state that demolition is required in order to effectively remediate the site.

We respectfully request that the City make every effort possible not to dismantle the Gasometer and the boiler building and to work around them. If demolition of the Gasometer is absolutely necessary for adequate site remediation, the Gasometer should be carefully dismantled, safely stored, and rebuilt on the Fulton Gas Works site. In addition, the Demolition and Disposal Plan prepared by Demolition Services, Inc. for the Gasometer should be revised to include and address the following:

  1. Prior to the start of any physical dismantling, the Gasometer should be photographically documented using both still and drone images and videos.
  2. Great care will be taken in the removal and disassembly of the Gasometer and that, if performed as outlined in the plan, will allow for proper reassembly of the Gasometer in the future. The process will cause minimal permanent damage to the steel members and leave little evidence of reassembly, once completed.
  3. If hand tools are not able to remove bolts and fasteners, and a torch is deemed necessary for removal, great care should be taken to ensure minimal damage to the components.
  4. When cross members, vertical beams, and tension rods are lifted and placed on the ground, great care should be taken to ensure minimal damage to the components. If possible, the dismantled pieces should be lowered to the ground onto pallets with protective padding in preparation for its transport to a storage area.
  5. The plan does not currently provide for how the dismantled pieces will be securely bundled for transport. The plan should be revised to state that dismantled pieces will be properly loaded, packed, and secured into containers with protective padding for transport. The containers will be covered with tarps for transport and possible long-term storage and will then be loaded onto vehicles for transport. During transport of the dismantled pieces, great care should be taken to ensure minimal damage to the components. All containers should be identified and labelled with the selected inventory system.
  6. The plan does not specify how and where the dismantled pieces will be stored. The plan should be revised to specify where the pieces will be stored and to provide that the pieces will be stored with great care and that the manner of storage will cause minimal permanent damage and will allow for proper reassembly of the Gasometer in the future.
  7. The plan does not reference the demolition of the boiler building. If the boiler building is to be demolished, the key architectural elements (such as the terra cotta sign) should be removed and stored in the same manner as the components of the Gasometer.

The Fulton Gas Works is one of the last remaining vestiges of Richmond’s early riverfront development and the Gasometer is a unique and iconic structure that should be preserved. We believe that City should make every effort to save the Gasometer and the boiler building.


UPDATE: March 26, 2021

The public comment period for the demolition plan for the Fulton Gas Works site is OPEN. Please send your comments to Daniel Rifenburgh, Engineering Manager for the Department of Public Utilities, at [email protected]. The comment period ends April 15th, 2021. The demolition plan, and other information regarding the remediation project, can be found here.

The current demolition plan is to dismantle the gasometer and label each piece to create a “plan for reinstallation by others.” 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 gasometer must be dismantled for site remediation, then the structure should be rebuilt in the same place. PLEASE SPEAK UP TO PRESERVE AND PROTECT THE GASOMETER!

A public meeting will be held with City officials to discuss the demolition plan for the Fulton Gas Works site on Monday, April 19, 2021 at 6:30 pm via Microsoft Teams. The public meeting will be held by the Department of Public Utilities. You should register to attend this meeting by emailing Daniel Rifenburgh at [email protected] before April 15th. After registering, you will receive the electronic link to the meeting. Information regarding the demolition plan and remediation project can be found here. More information on Fulton Gas Works can be found here.

 


 

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.

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