History & Homeownership on the Move in Richmond

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Last week, just days before the start of National Homeownership Month, the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority went "the extra mile" - actually, more like five blocks - to preserve a piece of homeownership history.

[Photo: An architect's rendition of a restored Tucker Cottage]
An architect's rendition of a restored Tucker Cottage

Until a few days ago, Tucker Cottage stood in the 600 block of North Third Street in Richmond's historic Jackson Ward. Built by Joe Tucker in the early 1800's, the house served as a home for free African Americans before the Emancipation.

According to preservationists, the two-story, wood-frame dwelling is significant specifically for its Dutch roof and, more generally, for reflecting the residential styles of 200 years ago.

But this bit of history is standing in the way of progress; more precisely, in the way of the planned expansion of Jackson Ward's Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

So, to cheers of "Jackson Ward on the move!," on May 25, using CDBG funds the Authority hoisted Tucker Cottage atop a flat-bed truck and in three hours moved it to a new site on Chamberlayne Parkway just five blocks away.

Once the house is rehabilitated and sold, it will, in conjunction with the even older W.W. Brown House that was home to the first African-American bank in the country, serve as the "gateway" to Jackson Commons, a community of some 80 new single-family homes and more than 25 apartments being developed by the Authority and local developers Walker Row Partnership and Robin Miller and Associates.

"As Richmond and the rest of the nation move forward in closing the minority homeownership gap," said Sheila Hill-Christian, executive director of the Authority, "our relocation, rehabilitation and eventual resale of a home built 200 years ago serves as a tangible, bricks-and-mortar reminder that the dream of homeownership has been as American as apple pie for persons of every age and every ethnic origin throughout our nation's history."

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