RVA50 Object 18 “Richmond City Hall Diorama, circa 1934″

“Richmond City Hall” Diorama, circa 1934

Artist Unidentified, Federal Arts Project
Works Project Administration
Watercolor on board

How many city halls has Richmond had? Before “Old City Hall” was old, it was new and replaced a classical structure completed in the same location in 1818 and demolished in 1874.  This diorama created by Valentine Museum staff during the 1930s shows the first city hall facing Capital Square between 10th and 11th streets.

Prior to the completion of the 1818 structure, city business was conducted in rented quarters or in a meeting room in the downtown market building.  Begun by noted architect Robert Mills (1781-1855) in 1816, construction of the first city hall was suspended by the Common Council, and Maximilian Godefroy (1765–circa 1838) was contracted to take over the project and “correct the errors.”

Following the collapse of a courtroom floor in the state capitol in 1870, Richmond officials feared the stability of the city’s public buildings. On February 20th 1874 city council ordered the demolition of the city hall, although it was later found to have been in sound condition.

Valentine Richmond History Center Collection, 1986