Richmond, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Pumps and Parties
This sturdy granite Pump House looks like a church on the outside and a castle on the inside. It was designed by City Engineer and Civil War Veteran Colonel W. Cutshaw. The long vertical lines and sharply arched "lancet" windows show that it is of the Gothic Revival style. (Old City Hall in downtown Richmond is another of this imposing design.)
Note how the lines draw your eyes upward to evoke a feeling of airiness. This form originates in medieval Europe and was intended to shift the viewer's attention to the heavens.
The first floor housed the pumps. They were driven by the force of the water falling from the upper canal, through water wheels and later turbines, to the lower canal in front of you.
Straight ahead, obscured by vegetation, are three [unreadable] at the base of the building. Water exited through the openings after driving the pumps.
The second floor was an open air gathering space for dances and concerts. Windows were added around 1900 to control the impact of weather, but have been removed on this side to reveal the
Imagine arriving by canal boat on a mild summer evening in the 1890's and dancing at a fancy dress ball with the sound of water rushing below you. It is the long-term park plan to restore this activity.
The Pump House was replaced in August 1924 by the flat-roofed stucco building to the right, which uses electric pumps and still provides drinking water for the city. The long white building further to the right, built in 1881, houses the old Worthington steam pumps that once pushed water up to the reservoir when the canal was low or frozen.
Erected by Friends of the James River Park System.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Architecture • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment • Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical month for this entry is August 1924.
Location. 37° 32.191′ N, 77° 29.182′ W. Marker has been reported damaged. Marker is in Richmond, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Pump House Drive west of Park Drive (Virginia Route 161), on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1600 Pump House Drive, Richmond VA 23225, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this location . Mule-Fueled Waterway (within shouting distance of this marker); Byrd Park Pump House (within shouting distance of this marker); Breaking Stones with Feathers (within shouting distance of this marker); Richmond at the Falls (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Water Water Everywhere (about 700 feet away); River & Canal (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Carillon (approx. half a mile away); Maymont, Gilded Age Estate (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Richmond.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 29, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 11, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 152 times since then and 25 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on May 11, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.