Pumps and Parties

Pumps and Parties (HM2GQ3)

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N 37° 32.191', W 77° 29.182'

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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 original design. In 1905 the building was extended to the left to house a boiler and generators for the experimental use of electric pumps.

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.
HM NumberHM2GQ3
Placed ByFriends of the James River Park System
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, May 11th, 2019 at 8:04pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 280319 N 4157297
Decimal Degrees37.53651667, -77.48636667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 32.191', W 77° 29.182'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 32' 11.46" N, 77° 29' 10.92" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling East
Closest Postal AddressAt or near , ,
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