I used to work in downtown Richmond, in an old movie theater that had been nicely redesigned to house Center City Development’s Innovation Center. My office overlooked a lovely street-scape of brick sidewalks, old-style lampposts, curving streets, and interesting, old buildings. I loved looking out at the activity on Main Street: business people rushing to grab a delicious sandwich at Tom’s New York Deli, artists setting up new exhibits at the Knollenburg’s Art Gallery, shoppers heading to Veach’s Toy Store, The Secret Ingredient, or one of the thrift stores to buy something unique, and students hanging out with their friends. I especially enjoyed walking around the area during my lunch hour, looking at the old buildings and wondering what they were like in the early years, when the National Road first reached Indiana and Richmond to become Richmond’s Main Street, in 1827.
Many of the buildings in Richmond’s downtown have been restored and much of their original architectural detail remains – elaborate windows, cornices, quoins, eave brackets, glazed tiles, columns, etc. – however many have been modernized or updated. Having seen the buildings close up, at street level, I’m not surprised the architecture and rich history of Richmond’s downtown has been nationally recognized and nominated for the National Register of Historic Places. One of the largest and most noticeable buildings in the area is the stone, castle-like, Romanesque Courthouse (built in 1893), which overlooks the gorge, with its towers and steep-hipped roofs. One of my favorites, because of its simplicity, with flat decorative elements of high gloss colored tiles and trim, is the “Kresge” building (constructed in c. 1935), on the corner of E. Main and 8th St. Another is the Beaux-Arts Commercial Style, Richmond Civic Theatre (built in 1909). Other architectural styles represented in the area include Italianate, Neo-Classical, Queen Anne, French Renaissance, English Cottage, Spanish Revival, and others.
A walking tour of Richmond’s downtown historic architecture has recently been unveiled so that other history and architecture lovers can stroll the well-maintained sidewalks of Richmond’s downtown area and learn more about the buildings and the history of the area. The tour map has new and historic photos, and identifies and describes 27 structures that have historic or architectural significance. You can get a copy of the Historic Architecture Downtown Richmond Walking Tour by calling the Wayne County Convention & Tourism Bureau at 800-828-8141 or e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Many “Then and Now” photos of downtown can be viewed here.