240 microfilm reels. 16 and 35 mm.
Beginning in 1908, the City of Richmond instituted a policy of issuing formal building permits. Part of the process for approval of a building permit was the submission of a set of architectural drawings and written specifications for the proposed project, both new structures and alterations or additions. The Office of Building Inspection reviewed and approved drawings and plans and issued building permits. This accession consists of the microfilm version of the index books, building permit application forms, the majority of the surviving architectural blueprints, and their building specifications.
The majority of the projects that appear on film in this accession are from a period of intense residential and commercial building activity in Richmond from 1910 to 1929. The structures documented include apartment buildings, banks, churches, commercial buildings, fraternal society buildings, garages, hospitals, hotels, municipal and state government buildings, office buildings, schools, service stations, single and multi-family residences, synagogues, and the like.
In the residential field, the rapid development of what was then the western edge of Richmond in the area along Monument Avenue is well documented in designs for high-style townhouses and apartment buildings. After World War II, the rapid western development of the city continued, as seen in the many designs for small, single-family homes typical of the post-war housing boom.
Accession 37533 is organized into three series: Index books, architectural
drawings and specifications, and building permit application forms. Individual
items are identified by there City of Richmond building permit number, which
appears in the index books, on each permit form, and the associated
architectural drawings and specifications. The index books dating from 1907-1941
are arranged chronologically and hereunder in two ways: by the last name of the
applicant for the permit and by the location of the proposed project (street
address or intersection). Beginning in 1941, the indices are arranged only by
location of the project.
Many of the earliest application forms and blueprints have been lost over time and, therefore, do not exist in any format. Additionally, in 1964, in order to reduce the volume of materials and prepare for microfilming, the City of Richmond discarded blueprint drawings for the majority of buildings with construction costs totaling less than $10,000. Accordingly, a number of buildings cited in the index volumes do not have surviving architectural blueprints either on film or paper. Some application forms and blueprints were not microfilmed in the correct order. Richmond City Reels 193-204 contain the index books. The index should be consulted in order to determine the permit number for each project being researched. Permit application forms, Richmond City Reels 275-432, and architectural drawings, Richmond City Reels 205-274, are organized sequentially by building permit number. Architectural blueprints may exist for given project on microfilm, on paper, or both. If the drawings have been microfilmed, the paper copies will not be served unless there are extenuating circumstances. Blueprints are fragile and highly light sensitive. The finding aid for this collection indicates which drawings have been microfilmed along with their reel number.
Accession 37533, 28 March 2000, City of Richmond, Department of Community Development, Bureau of Permits and Inspections, 900 E. Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219, Lent for copying.
Accessions 30150, 30745, and 38536 are the surviving paper blueprints, 1907-1948, from the Richmond City Office of Building Inspection. The materials are organized by a control number assigned during processing. Paper copies of the architectural blueprints are served only when they have not been microfilmed or circumstances dictate use of the original. Surviving building specifications have been rolled with the architectural blueprints. Those blueprints dated 1907-1947 have been processed and described in an Access database. Please see the LVA Archives Staff for information. Blueprints for 1948 have not been processed and are closed to the public at this time.
Vincent T. Brooks, October 2003-
Victoria Carter, intern, February-April 2004
The researcher must start with either the name of the person who applied for the building permit of the structure, or a street location of the building. In either case it is necessary to know the year a building was constructed. This can often be determined by consulting City Directories.
The permit number can be found by looking in the index book for a particular year and finding the listing, by last name. Example: if you know a building was built in 1923 by someone named Jones, you would look on the reel of film with the index book for that year on it, and then search the book for Jones on the "J" page.
The permit number can be found by looking in the index book for a particular year and finding the listing, by street address. Example: If you have an address or a location, and know a building was built in 1923, you would look on the reel of film with the index book for that year on it, and search the book for Main Street on the "M" page. Note: not all properties are listed by street number; sometimes only a location is given, such as "South side of Main Street between Monroe and Madison."
Having determined the permit number, the researcher can then examine the original permit application form. Permit application forms may include some or all of the following information: name of applicant, architect, builder, construction materials, cost of construction, dimensions of the structure, and the race of the occupant.
Researchers may then check for any surviving architectural drawings and the original architect’s specifications (see the reel inventory --below-- for a complete listing of the surviving architectural blueprints on microfilm). The permit number is noted on each frame of microfilm for the blueprints and appears written on the specifications. Not all drawings survived to be filmed, and the quality of the reproduction varies.
Separate indices list alterations and additions, demolitions, and "verbals," a term used for immediate approval given to smaller projects.
Building Inspection Permits
Architectural Drawings and Specifications (listed by permit number)
00069 - 06986
07000 - 12393
12405 - 17496
17507 - 30298
30300 - 31597
31600 - 9126A
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