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Posts Tagged ‘Fan’

If you are anything like me, you love to drive down Monument Ave and dream what it would be like to live in one of those gorgeous big mansions, or at least to visit, or at least to get a glimpse in the window.  Well, for all the voyeurs out there, this is your (and my) chance.  This weekend, December 11-12 is the Annual Fan District Holiday House Tour.  Going one better than the Kitchen & Garden Tour in the Spring, this time you get to tour the entire house in all its holiday-decorated splendor. 

This year there are 8 beautiful homes all located around Meadow Park in easy walking distance to one another.  There will also be live music and antique cars on display around Meadow Park.  Expect to see historical architecture & antiques, but also modern art & contemporary styling.  Regardless of the style, the pictures suggest all of the homes will be amazing. 

Some logistics:  The tour requests that you wear flat or soft soled shoes so as not to damage any of the many hardwood floors you will be walking on.  Also, no eating, drinking, photography, backpacks, or strollers.  The tour runs from 1-5pm on both days.  Parking is available at Heartfield Assisted Living on N. Allen and Retreat Doctor’s Hospital on Grove.  There will be a shuttle from the parking deck at Retreat Doctor’s Hospital to shuttle people back and forth from the tour area.  Tickets are $30/person (cash or check only).  One ticket is good for both days.  Tickets are available at Strawberry Street Vineyard, Heartfield Assisted Living,  and Retreat Doctor’s Hospital.   

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I’m not going to lie, the Richmond Christmas Parade has to be one of my all time favorite Richmond traditions so I”m super excited that it gets to be #100 on my list. We started attending when my husband was in college and we have rarely missed a year.   I’m also not going to lie and say I didn’t have to go back and delete “Ukrops” out of the title.  It feels so strange calling it the Dominion Christmas Parade, but hopefully they will win our hearts today as well.

The 27th annual parade is on Saturday, December 4th starting at 10am.  If you are just reading this and its 10:30, don’t worry, the parade usually starts late and I swear it goes on for hours so just get in your car and get down there.  The parade starts at the Science Museum on Broad Street and finishes at Seventh and Broad.  It usually travels down one side of Broad so spectators will be standing on the sidewalk on one side and the median on the other.  This parade is our mini-Macy’s parade with big parade balloons like  Bob the Builder and Raggedy Ann.  There will also be plenty of marching bands and other performers.  This year the Harlem Globetrotters are the grand marshals so that should make for some performance fun.  Santa of course is at the end of the parade, if you make it that long (I’m not kidding, it’s a very long parade).

One of the best things about this parade is its accessibility.  I’ve never had trouble finding good parking and a good viewing spot.  That being said, this year the parade is at the same time as the VCU Men’s Basketball game so stay as far away from the Siegel Center as possible.  Also make sure to pack chairs (however long you think this parade is, its longer!), blankets, and hot cocoa (its freezing out there and it can be hard to find somewhere to buy it).    This is definitely a Richmond tradition that you don’t want to miss!

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So this is a street festival that I actually hadn’t heard of (this is its 3rd year).  It has some unique activities and sounds really interesting so it’s probably a good one to visit today.  The Jonny Z Festival is held on the 200 block of N. Shields (in the Fan) in front of Joe’s Inn. The festival is a celebration of arts, music and community named after Jonny Z,  a young local artist and musician who died in 2007. Proceeds from the day benefit Art 180.   

The festival is free and kid-friendly.  Richmond artists and Bizarre Market vendors will showcase arts and crafts and commemorative t-shirts for sale. There will of course be live music from local musicians including 

Josh Small
The Catnip Dreams
Ghostdog & Cinnamon
Photosynthesizers and The Girtles

There will also be DJ’s from WRIR 97.3 playing music between the live performances.  Other activities include raffle drawings throughout the day for restaurant gift certificates and other great prizes–including a set of wheels from Bunny Hop Bicycle Shop!

Families will enjoy all the children’s activities including screenprinting by Studio 23, squiggle drawings by Squiggle Champion of the World Matt Lively, and a Spider-Man moonbounce.

Local business owners from Joe’s Inn and Shields Market will have food available (including pizza by the slice).  Lamplighter Roasting Company will be serving up iced coffee (apparently pizza and coffee were Jonny’s favorites).  

The weather is supposed to be beautiful this weekend with no heat advisories or near tornadoes so get out and enjoy the day!

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It’s festival day again (otherwise known as Saturday) and Richmond does not disappoint.  The 2010 Strawberry Street Festival will be held on Saturday, May 8th, from noon to 4:30pm.  This festival is a fundraiser for Fox Elementary, but  believe me when I tell you those Fox families know how to throw a party.  

There will be plenty of games including the bouncy house of course.  But there will also be a rock wall and car racing for kids (sorry Dads).  There will be plenty of games for the kids (you need to buy tickets to play) and the opportunity for kids to dye their hair pink and get a tattoo (every parent’s dream — my bathtub always stays pink for days afterward).  Mad science will also be there with their green slime, you may need a towel for your car seat. 

In addition to the regular festival fare, there will be a flea market in the foyer of Fox Elementary featuring gently used home items, plenty of craft vendors, a used book sale, and art for sale (Art Market will be at Stafford St.).  There will also be raffles and a silent auction to help raise money for the school.

It wouldn’t be a true festival without live entertainment.  Here is the tentative schedule:

  • 4th Grade Mind in Motions Team (12:30pm)
  • Swingers Jump Rope Team (1pm)
  • the school choir (1:30pm)
  • Cashmere Jungle Lords (2pm)
  • Jonathan the Juggler (2:45pm) – he is awesome if you have never seen him
  • Haze & the Transients (3:45)

And of course, it wouldn’t be a Strawberry festival without the actual fruit (well it would, but it definitely wouldn’t make sense).  There will be plenty of huge, juicy, red strawberries to eat and purchase.  All proceeds from this event go to the Fox Elementary School PTA.  This is a great family event.

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I loved all your posts about the one thing that always represents Richmond to you!  For me, its Monument Avenue.  My first introduction to Richmond was driving down Monument Ave.  It was love at first sight and it has been synonymous with Richmond for me ever since.  Monument Ave. is the heart and soul of the city, the entry into the Fan, and a visual display of our city’s history and architecture.  If you want the full Richmond experience, you must go and experience it!

First, some history about the famous avenue.  The earliest proposal for creating Monument Avenue appears on an 1888 plat showing the subdivision of the Allen Estate west of the present intersection of Franklin and Lombardy Streets.  In 1890, an estimated 100,000 people showed up to see the unveiling of the first monument, a statue of Robert E. Lee.  The statue was first assembled in Paris before it travelled to Richmond where it was pulled  by Richmond residents in wagons to its final destination.  Bad economic times (somethings never change), however, stalled the development of Monument Avenue and for awhile, the Lee Monument stood alone in a tobacco field. 

Finally, in 1906, the city council approved the extension of Monument Ave West to the Boulevard.  In 1907, the road began to be paved with its well-recognized asphalt paving blocks.  In May 1907, the J.E.B. Stuart monument was unveiled at the corner of Monument Avenue and Lombardy in what is now known as Stuart circle.  Next month the Thomas Jefferson monument was erected at Davis and Monument Ave.  Monument Avenue quickly became one of the most fashionable places to live (again, some things never change!).   In 1919, the Stonewall Jackson monument was unveiled at Boulevard and Monument Ave.   

The Matthew Fontaine Maury Monument, located at Monument Ave and Belmont, was unveiled on Armistice Day, November 11, 1929.  Maury was called the “Pathfinder of the Seas” and was known for his work in oceanography and meteorology among other things.  Although he was a Commodore in the confederate navy, he is not widely considered a confederate war hero.  The statue was originally supposed to be placed in Washington D.C., but it was rejected because Maury had abandoned his career in the Union military to join the confederacy.  My research didn’t really find a straightforward answer as to why the Maury monument was chosen for Monument Avenue, but it is one of the most detailed and beautiful monuments on the Avenue.  It was also the first indication that Monument Ave was moving away from its confederate war heroes theme and focusing more on Richmond heroes.  In 1996, the final monument, Arthur Ashe was unveiled at Monument and Roseneath.  Arthur Ashe was a native Richmonder, humanitarian, and famous tennis athlete.  He gave permission for the statue in 1993, but died before it was completed.  I still remember all the controversy over where the statue was going to be placed.  After a lot of debate and a very long public hearing, the statue was placed at Monument and Roseneath.  This was a huge step by the City of Richmond to reassert Monument Avenue as a street honoring Richmond’s heroes, not just war heroes.  

Aside from its historical significance, Monument Avenue is also an awesome display of the architectural history of Richmond.  I, for one, could spend hours walking up and down Monument just looking at the houses.  Housing styles include colonial revival, spanish colonial, Tudor, French renaissance, Italian renaissance, mediterranean villa, arts and crafts, plantation style and more.  In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the economy suffered (again) and many of the larger mansions were turned into boarding houses and apartments.  Eventually, concerned citizens began converting the homes back to single family.  One of the tipping points was when the city tried to pave over the original asphalt paving blocks to lessen the noise (if you have driven on them, you know what they are talking about).  People pulled together (one even stood in front of the paving machine) and were able to stop the construction. 

Shortly after, in 1967, Monument Avenue was entered into the National Register of Historic Places.  In the early 1970’s, Monument Avenue became the ceremonial parade route in the city, and hosted the first Easter on Parade in 1973.  People who have “paraded” down Monument Ave on their way to the Governor’s mansion include:  Commander Richard Evelyn Byrd, Winston Churchill, General Eisenhower, and Queen Elizabeth.  In the 1980’s the city began restoring and cleaning the monuments while people continued renovations on their homes.  Except for a few homes that were torn down over the years, Monument Avenue has survived mostly intact.  In 1989, the Monument Avenue historic district was expanded and in 1997 the Avenue was designated a National Historic Landmark.  It is the only street in the United states to receive that honor.   The only other district labeled as  a National Historic Landmark in Richmond is Jackson Ward.  In 2007, the American Planning Association named Monument Avenue one of the 10 great streets in the country. 

Today, Monument Ave. is at the heart of many Richmond traditions including Easter on Parade and the Monument Ave 10k Race.  You cannot have a Fan Home and Garden Tour without touring some of the grand homes on Monument.  On any given day you can see people walking and jogging up and down Monument Ave.  There are always sunbathers and people relaxing on the grassy median or around the monuments.  Lately, you can always find a good game of cornhole going on as well.  It is a great place for dogs, and trust me you will see tons of them (just watch where you step). You will always see people sitting out on front porches or makeshift rooftop decks people- watching and relaxing.  Monument Avenue is one of the most unique “streets” in the country, I’ve never seen anything like it.  I still sometimes go out of my way to take a drive down it.  Admit it, you do too!  What do you like most about Monument Ave?

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I have to admit, I was a little stuck today.  There isn’t much going on around town and I really wanted to cover something I knew.  Then I thought about Kuba Kuba.  This is hands down, one of the best restaurants in Richmond and definitely a favorite in my family. It is often compared to the other Cuban restaurant in town, Havana 59, but my experience there didn’t even compare.  Kuba Kuba was founded by a Cuban immigrant, Manny Mendez and features Cuban food in a little cafe set up like an authentic Latin Bodega, all the way down to the latin music and latin goods for sale lining the walls. 

  

Kuba Kuba is located in an old pharmacy/coffee shop on the corner of Park and Lombardy in the Fan.  This is the perfect location to take in some Fan atmosphere before or after you eat.  Lombardy Park (featured before on this blog) is directly across the street and is a great place to wear out the kids so they behave at lunch!  The restaurant is not big so don’t go with a huge party, and don’t expect a booth unless you have at least 3 people.  Most importantly, don’t go if you are in a hurry.  You will wait for a table at peak times and service can be slow.  Oh, and parking is street parking in the Fan, enough said.  So why go there?  Two words, THE FOOD!!!! 

The atmosphere is fun and authentic, but the food is incredible!  They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and brunch on the weekends.  I’m not alone in thinking this, Kuba Kuba was even featured in the New York Times in 2009.  The menu includes authentic dishes like Empanadillas, Paella, Huevos Rancheros, and of course, the Cuban sandwich.  There is also plenty of beer and wine available too.  You can finish with authentic Cuban coffee and their delicious tres leche cakes.  Everyone has their favorite dish (mine is just plain rice and beans with cornbread), but rarely do you find a dish that no one likes.  The prices are reasonable too.  The brunch is especially popular so be prepared to wait if you head there for breakfast on the weekend.  Don’t worry though, its worth the wait! 

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West Avenue is actually having 2 garden tours this week, one as part of historic garden week and one that is neighborhood based.  I’m covering them both here.

Today is the last day of Historic Garden Week activities in Richmond.  Today’s activities center on the tour down West Avenue in the Fan district.  You didn’t really think that garden week would go by without seeing anything in the Fan did you?  West Avenue, for those of you that haven’t seen it, is a smaller enclave neighborhood that consists of one street in the Fan.  To see a map click here.  The street is known today for its beautiful renovations, diversity of home styles, and fantastic gardens.  It is also known for its incredible community, which is reflected in its own neighborhood association, neighborhood crest, garden tours, activities, and residents.  The earliest known documentation of the street was in a Map of Richmond City dated 1873.  At the turn of the last century, West Avenue was on the cusp of Richmond’s westward expansion, and was called Stork Alley because it attracted young married couples beginning their families.  You will see storks in the neighborhood crest and throughout the neighborhood.  

The tour includes four homes on West Ave, one on Park and one on W. Franklin.  Home styles on this tour include Georgian Revival, Victorian, Dutch Colonial, 20th Century Rowhouse, and more.  Inside you will see antiques, various types of artwork, contemporary styling, and salvaged architectural pieces restored and used in renovations. 

The tour is held Thursday from 10-4:30.  Again, it is a walking tour so wear comfortable shoes.  Ticket prices remain the same.  Refreshments are supposed to be served from 2:30-4, although the location remains a mystery.  Perhaps you will be told when you purchase your tickets. 

Other Garden Week activities today are being held at Tuckahoe Plantation and Lewis Ginter.  Tuckahoe Plantation, which was featured in an earlier post, will have the gardens and house open for tours today.  Although the gardens are almost always open for self-guided tours, the home only opens for special occasions or by reservation.  The cost for the tours is $10. 

In honor of Historic Garden Week, Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens will have extended hours on Thursday night, until 9pm.  Food will be available in the Garden Cafe until 7pm and can be “carried out” to eat at Bloemendaal House where there will also be wine-tasting and live music.  Seating is first come first served, but lawn chairs and blankets are ok.  The interior of the Bloemendaal House will be open until 8pm.  There will also be special tours and exhibits available.  You can get all the details here.    

If you can’t make it to the West Ave. Garden tour today, after all it is a work day, then you are in luck because this weekend is the 70th annual West Ave. Garden Tour (not related to Historic Garden Week).  This is the neighborhood’s premier event ot the year and includes all homes on West Ave. and a few on the bordering streets.  Back in 1966, famed landscape designer, Charles Gillette worked with some West Ave. residents to develop garden judging criteria and awards were added as part of the annual event. 

The tour is on Sunday, April 25th and is free (a much better deal than garden week prices) and open to the public.  There will be children’s parade at 12pm where the children present garden tour flags to the winning gardens.  The gardens for all homes will be open from 1-5pm.  This is just gardens, no homes are open.  You can get more information on this event here.

So, no offense intended, but I am thrilled Historic Garden Week is over for the most part in Richmond.  I am all gardened-out, at least for a while.  I look forward to the day that I don’t have to type “Garden” a million times!  Stay tuned for more fun non-garden related activities later this week (I know, I typed it again, now I can’t stop!).

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