Shockoe Bottom

At Risk 4

Update: April 8, 2021

Masons’ Hall is only one of the many important historic resources in Shockoe. Shockoe is the valley where our city began. Our physical, cultural, religious, governmental, judicial and economic history was formed and shaped in Shockoe. This history is not just important on a local level, but also on a state and national level. As such, its historic resources include multiple significant resources (both above and below ground) that are critical to protect. We are advocating for Shockoe’s historic resources on multiple fronts:

• In connection with the Richmond 300, we advocated for the preeminence of the detailed work of the Shockoe Alliance on the Shockoe Small Area Plan.

• In connection with the Shockoe Small Area Plan planning effort, we are advocating to preserve and protect the core historic area containing Richmond’s oldest surviving structures and most significant intact architectural character, for the Heritage Campus, and for economic development. See our website for more information about our advocacy for Shockoe’s historic resources

• As a consulting party on the proposed Shockoe Valley Streets Improvement Project, we asked for the project to be redesigned to avoid certain historic archaeological resources and to remain within the existing right of way, particularly on 17th Street and Oliver Hill Way where it adversely impacts development potential. As proposed, the project with its multiple roundabouts and significant widening of 17th Street/Oliver Hill Way would adversely affect Richmond’s historic street grid by creating a suburban sinuous style in place of the historic rectilinear street grid, giving large amounts of land to the car and ignoring the historic urban setting. Please write your City Council Member to ask that this project be redesigned.

Historic Richmond’s mission is to shape the future of Richmond by preserving our distinctive historic character, sparking revitalization, and championing our past and future architectural legacy. Historic Richmond supports the preservation of Richmond’s most important cultural resources. Shockoe Bottom is critically important to our understanding of Richmond’s and our nation’s cultural history.  This preservation and interpretation should acknowledge the history and character of Richmond and promote cultural enrichment and understanding of all aspects of our history.

Historic Richmond believes this can be accomplished through:

  • Preservation of Shockoe Bottom’s significant historic and architectural character by reusing existing historic structures and discouraging demolition;
  • Adoption of a form-based code or the creation of a design overlay district for new development in Shockoe Bottom to be based on the district’s existing historic architectural character;
  • Promotion of the understanding of our city’s earliest history, including the history of the slave trade and its role in shaping Richmond’s cultural and architectural landscape, through a comprehensive archaeological survey of Shockoe Bottom;
  • Development of interpretive signage, exhibits, digital projects, and educational tools to help understand our city’s past through all its dimensions; and
  • Dedication of city-owned property and funds to design and build an architecturally significant and inspiring heritage site in Shockoe Bottom commemorating the history of the slave trade and the lives, contributions and sacrifices of enslaved persons.

In accordance with these principles, Historic Richmond will review specific plans as they are presented to us.

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