Pumphouse circa 1897

Often overlooked, the pumphouse is an impressive building with a rich history.

These two pictures are from the excellent VCU Libraries Digital Archives, specifically Art Work of Richmond which was originally posted in 1897.

From NPS:

The facility pumped water uphill from the canals to the Byrd Park Reservoir, the city’s main water supply. Far from being entirely utilitarian, however, the pump house was also a popular gathering place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The pump house is in a scenic location at the Three-Mile Locks of the canal system. The site inspired Colonel Wilfred Emory Cutshaw, Richmond’s City Engineer from 1874 until 1907, to design the building as a social venue as well as a waterworks. He included an open-air dance hall, or pavilion, on the second floor above the equipment room. The pump house had the reputation of being one of the only buildings in the country designed and used as both a public utilities building and a social hall.



Image: VCU Libraries Digital Archives

  • error

    Report an error

Richard Hayes

When Richard isn’t rounding up neighborhood news, he’s likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest craft beer.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Melissa on said:

    To see the inside of this gorgeous building, all you have to do is pay $15 to join Friends of the James River Park. They host an annual picnic in the Pumphouse! It’s a magical throwback evening with an acoustic band on the old dance floor and the opportunity to see the defunct waterworks downstairs.

  2. Melissa, you don’t actually have to pay for that membership (though you still may consider doing so!) just to tour the Pump House. There’s free tours on Saturdays 10-4PM. Here’s a video: https://youtu.be/P9NFAOAtrVQ

  3. Melissa on said:

    Oh that’s cool. And they’re having a concert there this Saturday at 1, which would be a great time to check it out.

    But FoJRP helps support the park system including the Pumphouse all year, so park users should join anyway. FoJRP volunteer events stretch donation dollars really far.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with an asterisk (*).

Or report an error instead