About the Richmond Esthetic Survey/Historic Building Survey

 Introduction | Notes on Presentation
Photo Scanning | Map Scanning
Related Resources | Search Tips


In 1964, the Historic Richmond Foundation (HRF) and the William Byrd Branch of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) undertook an inventory of historic buildings in Richmond. The Richmond City Planning Commission assisted the APVA and HRF in underwriting the cost of the survey. Workers carried out the study in the spring of 1965 under the direction of Paul S. Delaney and Carlo Pelliccia of the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture. 

The project confined the inventory to the central part of Richmond, from Boulevard east to Chimborazo Park, and from the James River north to Shockoe Cemetery. The area’s concentration of historic architecture, in addition to the amount of change and demolition going on at the time, prompted this focus.  

The original concept to document the individual buildings of historical and architectural interest—the historic buildings survey—broadened with the inclusion of the Planning Commission. In addition to solitary structures, a parallel study was made of blocks, street frontages, and urban spaces in terms of aesthetic values—the esthetic survey. The latter study sought to analyze the city’s visual assets with the hope that the information would be utilized in future planning decisions. 

Approximately 750 items were documented in the inventory of historic buildings. This includes some outdoor objects such as statuary and fountains. The study relied heavily on the works of Miss Mary Wingfield Scott, specifically her books Houses of Old Richmond and Old Richmond Neighborhoods. Additionally, researchers utilized a card file, now housed at the Valentine Richmond History Center, that Miss Scott prepared with information on all of the buildings dating from before the Civil War. The surveyors attempted to expand on the card file’s scholarship, but, as of 1968, it was incomplete. 

The records generated by both surveys, the Richmond Esthetic Survey and Historic Buildings Survey, were compiled and copies housed at the Valentine Richmond History Center and Richmond City Planning Commission. The latter has since been transferred to the archives of the Library of Virginia. The culmination of this documentation effort was the publication of The Architecture of Historic Richmond by Paul S. Delaney (The University Press of Virginia, 1968).

Note on Presentation  

The goal of the Library of Virginia has been to present the entire RES/HBS collection online in one place, in a coherent and easily searchable manner, and as it was originally organized. The information, therefore, has not been updated. However, some notations regarding demolitions were made after 1965 by those inventorying the buildings or by staff at the Richmond Planning Commission.

In the interest of historical presentation and completeness, all photographs associated with the project are included without cosmetic changes. The photographs are presented as they are, blemishes and all. As the negatives no longer exist for the vast majority of the photos, the Library scanned the original prints.

Photograph Scanning  

The photographs were scanned from the original prints using a Kodak DCS 460 digital camera, an AGFA Arcus II flatbed scanner, or a UMAX Mirage IIse flatbed scanner. They were scanned at 300 DPI in grayscale or color and saved in grayscale as TIF images. Minimal post-scanning processing (primarily cropping, resizing to 8" x 10" format, image rotation, and image resolution) was performed using Adobe Photoshop. The images were "burned" to CD-ROM and mounted on the image server; JPEG images and thumbnail images were derived from the TIF images for Internet display.

Map Scanning

The maps were scanned using a Phase One 4" x 5" digital camera back, with a vacuum board and tungsten lights. For production purposes, a double set of full-size inkjet prints was made using a Tangent 24" x 36" flatbed scanner (FB 600-36) and an HP Design Jet 755 CM inkjet printer.

Related Resources  

Delaney, Paul S. The Architecture of Historic Richmond. Charlottesville, 1968.

Search Tips


The primary material of the original Richmond Esthetic Survey/Historic Buildings Survey (RES/HBS) consists of building reports, building photographs, neighborhood reports, neighborhood view photographs, neighborhood maps, and city section maps. The focal point of the digitized version of the RES/HBS project is the Building Home Page or Neighborhood Home Page.  Every Building or Neighborhood Report has a Home Page with links to all of the material pertaining to that report: digitized images of the report, digitized images of the accompanying photographs, the report subject's location on the city section and neighborhood maps, and, in the case of an individual building, a link to the Neighborhood Home Page, if applicable.

The Building Home Page/Neighborhood Home Page can be reached in two ways:

How to Search the Richmond Esthetic Survey/Historic Buildings Survey (RES/HBS) Database  

Punctuation and capitalization are disregarded. Entries in this database are arranged by address. In addition to regular searches, you may click on any highlighted element of a database record (such as a subject) to initiate a search on that element.

There are two kinds of catalog records in the RES/HBS database: records for the reports (building or neighborhood) and records for the accompanying photographs.

Building Report/Neighborhood Report Records  

Each survey report record in the RES/HBS database consists of:

Titles (Street Addresses)  

A Browse search on the Title index will return a numerical list by street address for individual buildings (Building Report Home Page) or alphabetically by street name for neighborhoods (Neighborhood Report Home Page).

A Title Browse search on “100” will return:

A Title Browse search on “East Franklin” will return:

File Numbers

Alpha-numeric file numbers were generated during the original study. The alphabetical portion (A-D) refers to the division of the Main Page map used in the survey. The numerical segment indicates a historic or visual resource within that section.


Each survey report contains several extensive notes describing the subject of the report. All of the information in these notes is keyword searchable using Basic or Advanced searches.

Several of these notes use standardized phrases that can be useful in keyword searches. Examples of standardized phrases:

Examples of keyword searches ("Words Anywhere") using standardized phrases:

Subject Headings

Both types of report records contain several subject headings, usually for names, types of structures, and street names in the report. A Browse search in the Subject index retrieves records in a browsable alphabetical listing by subject, beginning with the word or words used in the search. Words found within subject searches are also keyword searchable.

There are three kinds of subject headings used in the report records in the RES/HBS database:

Examples of corporate subject headings:

Examples of topical subject headings:

Examples of geographic subject headings:

Note: the topical subject heading "Buildings" appears in every record and should not be used as the basis of a search.


Each Building Report contains links to all or some of the following:

Each Neighborhood Report contains links to all or some of the following:

Photograph Records

Each photograph record in the Neighborhood Report contains a link to the Photo Record. This catalog record gives specific information about the contents of that particular photograph.


The information in these records usually contains the subject of the photograph, its neighborhood view number, and a title (if present) from the verso of the image.


Each photograph record contains several subject headings, street names and types of structures, geographic places, or other objects prominently featured in the photograph. A Basic search in the Subject index retrieves records in a browsable alphabetical listing by subject, beginning with the word or words used in the search. Subject headings for photographs are interfiled with subject headings for reports. Words found within subject searches are also keyword searchable.

Searching the Richmond Esthetic Survey/Historic Buildings Survey Main Page

From the Main Page, choose the letter shown on the map of the section of the city to be searched. Then from the drop-down lists of All Neighborhood Home Pages on map, Building Home Pages in this area, or All Building Home Pages on map choose the desired address or vista.

Based on your choice, you will be directed to the Neighborhood Home Page or Building Home Page of your selection.

The Neighborhood/Building Home Page

The Neighborhood or Building Home Page is the virtual home of all the links pertinent to a particular report. From there you can go to report pages, database records, photographs, and maps. The home pages can be reached by searching the database, retrieving a record, and following the links at the top of the record display, or by choosing a map section from the Main Page and selecting from the drop-down menus.

Regardless of how you arrive, once you are at the Neighborhood/Building Home Page, all possible links are displayed on one screen.

View Photograph(s)  

Photographs appear as thumbnail links. Clicking on the thumbnail image takes you to the full-size image of the photograph; clicking on the link "Photograph Record" in the Neighborhood Home Page takes you to the catalog record for the photograph. Pertinent information about the photograph is given underneath the thumbnail.

View Report  

The Building Folder/Envelope and Neighborhood Reports are also shown as thumbnail images. Clicking on the thumbnail image takes you to the full-size image of the file.

View Map(s)  

Thumbnail links to all maps associated with the survey are also available on the Neighborhood/Building Home Page. When you click on the thumbnail, the image will enlarge and display the close-up portion of the map indicating the location of the report subject. Other resources may also appear in the displayed portion of the map.

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