The Pattern Building's origins reflect the uses of the Valentine Riverside site by several industries that were key to America's, and Richmond's industrial development. The building's stone and brick foundations are from a water-powered flour mill built by Lewis D. Crenshaw, later used a woolen mill. Crenshaw's operation also included a warehouse-grain elevator on the canal. After Crenshaw's mill burned in 1863, Tredegar Iron Works rebuilt the mill in its present form for making and storage of foundry patterns. Another fire, around 1890, destroyed the upper floor, which was rebuilt.
Crenshaw flour and woolen mill, c. 1854-63
Crenshaw's flour mill, converted to woolen production in 1860, was 5 stories with stepped end gables. Its stone foundations can still be seen.
Tredegar pattern shop and storage, c. 1867-1890's
Tredegar rebuilt a three story pattern shop over the stone foundations of Crenshaw's mill. The new building's large foundation required an arch to support the northeast corner, bridging an earlier raceway.
Wooden patterns were used to make architectural columns for iron front buildings in Richmond, including this building in Shockoe Slip, constructed in 1878.
Tredegar Pattern Building, 1890's to present
The building continued to be used to store patterns until Tredegar's operations ended in 1957. The red brick of the upper floor and a change in the window form indicate the 1890 rebuilding.
Patterns used in an iron works are three dimensional wooden models that are pressed into specially bonded casting sand called green sand. The pattern is removed and molten iron is poured into the impression, casting a perfect replica of the pattern.