Urban Campus

The Birth of the Richmond & Chesapeake Bay Terminal

Richmond-Chesapeake Bay Terminal

Richmond-Chesapeake Bay Trolley Terminal (Original Building 1907)

Before acquisition by the Virginia Commonwealth University, the Depot played a major part during the age of trolley car transportation in Richmond, Virginia.  Built in the early 20th century, the Depot was the southern terminal of the Richmond & Chesapeake Bay Railway, with lines connecting Richmond to Ashland, Virginia.  The original structure built by W.A. Chesterman was constructed of light brick, with stone base and metal cornices.  The architectural firm of Noland and Baskerville used the Beaux Arts style for the exterior design.  Popular during the early 20th century, this style combined classical forms such as Roman archways with a steep entry stairway, and flat roof.  To add to the design, the Roman numerals, “A.D. MCMVII.” are located near the roof line of the building, announcing its grand opening in 1907. (McKenney, Carlton Norris: Rails in Richmond) (http://news.vcu.edu/article/Creative_platform​)

Upon arriving early for their departure time, trolley passengers could enter the ground level shop, Atlas Confectionary and Lunches, to purchase something to eat on their journey.  Then the passenger would climb the two level stairway located in the front and center of the buliding, which would take them to the second floor where the passenger waiting area was located. During the time of segreation, two waiting areas were located on the second floor; one for "whites" and one for "colored people." Not only were there separate waiting areas, but separate bathrooms were required; marked for "whites" and for "colored people." There was also a ticket office, freight room and motorman's room located on the second floor.  The station was beautifully illuminated with arc lamps and General Electric tungsten lamps. (McKenney, Carlton Norris: Rails in Richmond) (http://news.vcu.edu/article/Creative_platform​)

The trolley would travel up the viaduct at the back of the terminal, arriving at the second floor of the Depot. (McKenney, Carlton Norris: Rails in Richmond)

The Birth of the Richmond & Chesapeake Bay Terminal