Finally, my travels have brought me to one of the most historically significant cities in the United States, Richmond, Virginia.
After landing Friday at Richmond’s beautiful modern airport, and taking I-295 to Henrico County where a friend of mine lives near Short Pump – love that name – I didn’t see anything that you would not see in the rest of homogenous America. That would change Saturday evening when we headed into downtown Richmond to have a great dinner at a fine restaurant across the street from the historic Carpenter Theatre where the Richmond Symphony Orchestra performed a really fine Beethoven concert.
The orchestra reminded me very much of the Columbus Symphony. In other words, it is a very fine regional orchestra. The only thing about the theater that was like the CSO’s home in the Bill Heard Theater at the River Center was its size. It has about 1,800 seats. Bill Heard has almost 2,000, and it’s relatively new and state of the art. The Carter is a renovated ornate Loew’s movie palace that was opened in 1928, the year before the much larger Fox in Atlanta opened. It’s 65 years old, but the renovation makes it look brand new. It’s a show in itself.
Still, that’s not a lot different from other large American cities. What is different is that this city was a major player in the American Revolution and the American Civil War. This is where Patrick Henry delivered his “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” speech in St. John’s Church, which not only still stands, but is an active Episcopal church today.
This, as you know, is the city that became the Capital of the Confederacy in the Civil War. That Capitol building still stands and is the Capitol of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Monuments abound in Richmond. The superstar Confederate generals like Robert E. Lee have impressive monuments on Monument Avenue.
Standing in the midst of all that is a truly modern and world-class museum, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. After having lunch in an, as my friend describes it, a fine dining environmentally pleasant restaurant that brings the outdoors indoors, we saw extraordinary exhibits, everything from the great classics to Andy Warhol paintings and Art Decor furniture.
More to come.