Posted by: Necci – May 30, 2012
Adolph B. Rice was a photographer who owned and operated a commercial studio in Richmond starting in 1949. After his death in 1960, his son Adolph B. Rice Jr. operated the studio until it closed down in 1961. Rice and his son did all sorts of commercial work around Richmond during the mid-20th century, from business and studio portrait photography to aerial landscape shots to catalog photography for local department stores. After the studio ceased operations, it left behind over 16,000 4x5 film negatives, the full collection of which was eventually donated to the Library Of Virginia. The entire collection is online at the Library Of Virginia's website, but 505 highlights from the collection have been posted as a set on the Library Of Virginia's flickr account. This collection features many different types of photographs taken by Rice's studio during its years of operation, but of particular interest to us were the pictures documenting the way RVA looked half a century ago. Some of these street scenes are striking in their difference from the way those same locations appear today. Here are some of our favorites:
Interior of diner, 802 Hull St, 1955. This address puts the location of this diner at Hull St and Commerce Rd, near the McDonalds, but the building appears to no longer exist.
Shell gas station, southeast corner of Libbie & Patterson, 1959. Libbie appears to have been a dirt road at the time. Now it's a 6-lane paved road, with a busy stoplight at this intersection. The Shell station is now a BB&T Bank branch.
Boulevard looking West at the entrance to Parker Field, now The Diamond, 1960.
Oregon Hill residents in their front yard, S. Belvidere St, 1954. This house has now been replaced by a brick wall.
Aerial view of Broad St at Staples Mill, 1954. The building that is the present-day location of The Crazy Greek is in the photo, but the gas stations, bank branches, and numerous fast-food joints in this location today are still far in the future.
600 block of S. Belvidere St at Maiden Lane, 1956. Maiden Lane no longer intersects with Belvidere--a VCU administrative office building now sits at this location.
Aerial view of Virginia State Penitentiary, 1954. This prison was East of Belvidere in a neighborhood known as Penitentiary Bottom, and was torn down sometime in the late 80s. Some sort of office complex is there now.
WRVA Theatre, E. Broad at 9th St., 1960. Now an office building.
Looking East on W. Cary St at Cherry, 1960. Present-day location of 821 Cafe on right, future site of VCU parking deck on left.
2001 Jeff Davis Highway, at Warwick St, 1960. Now a vacant lot.
W. Broad St. at Willow Lawn, 1960. Willow Lawn entrance is at right in the picture.
Bob's And Bill's, 1906 North Avenue, 1961. Now a playground.
Belvidere at W. Cary St, looking north, 1958. The VCU Engineering Building is now located on left, and recently built VCU buildings are now on the right, east of Belvidere.
E. Broad St. at 7th, 1960. The National Theatre, now The National, is on the left.
(Top Image: Richmond Ice wagon, 1958.)
By Andrew Necci