As I’ve driven around over the past few weeks I find myself paying less attention to landmarks and more to the architectural details of the homes I pass, specifically porches. Every so often my eye catches some familiar lattice work and I conduct a sudden turn at the nearest intersection to go around the block for a second look, most often resulting in a super-stealth photo session. I revisited many of these sites again and again, and have compared their details to that of the three porches existing on 811, 813 and 817 South Cathedral Place. I believe their manufacturer to be the match of possibly two other sites. The other porches I have come across exhibit variants in detail that make me believe they are from other manufacturers. However, uncovering the manufacturer of at least our row has yet to materialize.
I took a peek through J.J. Montague’s 1882 catalogue containing some porch details, but nothing similar is offered, which isn’t too disappointing because it was seven years prior to construction. I am quite interested in Montague however, since he and John C. Shafer were close friends and neighbors. Montague was a paul bearer at Shafer’s funeral alongside other prominent Franklin Street residents and Richmond businessmen Lewis Ginter, John Dunlop, and E.A. Saunders. Reason would tell us Shafer would want to support a friend’s business with a project of five three-level dwellings.
Flipping through a few other millwork catalogues with national reach from around the late 1800s do not reveal a match to the porch pattern. There are some somewhat similar styles, but nothing that makes me pop out of my seat, like the Leighton motif. This is going to be tough to uncover.
Attached is a catalogue I’ve composed of matching or close porch styles around Richmond. I have located the matches in a few other instances in the Fan proper, but also in Church Hill, Carver, and Monroe Ward specifically at Queen Anne’s Row on Main Street. According to the sometimes messy City of Richmond Assessment records online, all are built around the same time as our row, circa 1890.