Saturday, November 12, 2011

Project Update: Visit to Richmond

Thursday's trip to Richmond was a very good one. I had planned to check out the School Buildings Service collection and books related to Robinson's work at the Library of Virginia. Then I got a call the day before from Bob Boynton of Boynton Rothschild Rowland Architects, the firm that has Robinson's plans and records, and he said I could look at the materials they have in their office.

I didn't expect to find too much with the School Buildings Service records since most are stock plans developed by the Commonwealth in the 30s and 40s, but I hoped some of the records with renovation plans would have a layout for Robinson's original building. I did find one for the Bailey's school but the best thing, especially for a digital history class, were the new microfilm scanners!

The film gets loaded into a reader that displays on a monitor. The images on the screen can be scanned and saved to a flash drive as a PDF. Here's still of the display but a YouTube video on the ScanPro 2000 shows a lot more.

The quality of the images is excellent! This is how the floor plan for Bailey's turned out.

I can only imagine how helpful this will be for newspapers and handwritten records.

The visit to the architect office was a great surprise, too. The plans are stored off-site and retrieving them would be expensive and time-consuming for the firm, but I was thankful to see what they did have -- photographs of Robinson's schools in Richmond and Tidewater, a scrapbook of clippings from the 1920s, a list of school building commissions and an index to school drawings.

These helped me positively identify two of three schools I thought were Robinson's work. Both Herndon and Round Hill were listed, although Floris wasn't. Floris looks like a Robinson school, but maybe a contractor simply modified the plans of the Herndon design by removing a floor to build Floris.

The records also added a couple that I just can't figure out -- Ballston and Barcroft schools in Arlington. According to the records, these schools were commissioned in early 1914, but the research I've done indicates that these schools were built at different times. Ballston was built in the 1890s and looked just like the Hume school. The Barcroft school was established in a church building in 1908 and a new school building opened in 1925. I'll need to check the school records again to see if I can find anything to explain what was going on in 1914.

The last question I had was the Lucketts school which is a frame building that has some similarities to Robinson's schools at that time but I just haven't been convinced that it's his. The records show "Lucketts School (Stock)" with no date. Since I've seen two other Loudoun schools that look like the Lucketts school, perhaps Robinson provided stock plans for a frame building that Loudoun used for more than one schoolhouse, with Ashburn (below right) being built in 1911, Lucketts (below left) in 1913 and Aldie in 1915.

Always easier driving back home in crappy weather and slow traffic when you have lots to think about and new info to work with!

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