Have you ever been to Richmond, Virginia? I had not before this weekend when we attended a perfect and beautiful wedding there. Quite frankly, I’d never given Richmond much thought, so everything I saw and learned was new to me.
Richmond is one of the oldest cities in the country having been settled 400 years ago just a few years after Jamestown. Like many other places in the South, its economy relied heavily on farming, particularly tobacco which today is still a lucrative business.
Richmond, of course, was capital of the Confederacy, and there are many reminders in the city of its importance during the Civil War. On one street, appropriately called Monument Avenue as it has huge statues of Civil War heroes Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, J.E.B. Stuart and Robert E. Lee, is the house that served as headquarters to Davis who, as you know, was president of the Confederacy.
One of the wedding activities was held in this one which is now home to the Virginia Garden Club. Like many another structure, it had columns, seemingly an architectural must in Richmond, even in the fine arts museum.
Speaking of the museum, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in a winner. It proudly sports a new addition which to me was almost as interesting as the art it housed. Walking through the galleries was a visual delight and, as you might guess, the tapestries caught my eye.
Weaving tapestries in the 16th and 17th century was a real art form, and I marvel over how threads are used to produce a work as layered as any painting. I can only imagine the challenge of “painting” in this medium.
Richmond is home to two universities, the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University. Please don’t tell, but I was unfamiliar with VCU until last year’s NCAA basketball tournament, however, its significant presence in the city cannot be denied. I was surprised to learn that the enrollment is in excess of 35,000.
We stayed in the Jefferson Hotel, and I’m sure its walls have many stories. I had no idea that part of the filming for Gone With the Wind was done there. Walking down the stairs to the large ballroom, I could imagine Scarlett O’Hara making her appearance in the dress she had made from Tara’s velvet draperies.
Alligators in one form or another were inside and out at the hotel. That was somewhat puzzling until I found a sign explaining their presence. Apparently, in days past, Florida visitors thought it cute to have a pet alligator. As they travelled north, the alligators often outgrew their habitat and were left behind in Richmond, probably becoming residents the local populace didn’t welcome.
I’m sure there is much more to know about this historic southern city, but time was short so it will have to wait for another day. In the meantime, do come back tomorrow to glimpse a most interesting installation at the museum.
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