Sean McGoey covered a wide range of stories in his first year at the Times-Dispatch. In this A1 Extra, he shares some of the more memorable ones. A1 Extra is presented by Westminster Canterbury.
A Scott’s Addition company that makes hydroponic micro-farms recently installed an operation on one of the world’s biggest cruise ships. Babylon Micro-Farms has more than doubled the number of farms in circulation since moving to the city in 2021. Barrel Pond Liner
Babylon had three farms installed inside of MSC Cruises’ newest ship the World Europa, called one of the most anticipated cruise ships of 2022 by U.S. News & World Report. MSC contacted Babylon three years ahead of the ship’s unveiling with plans to have the farms inside one of its on-board restaurants.
Three micro-farms went into into the space for MSC’s restaurant concept branded the Chef’s Garden Kitchen, which was built specifically to accommodate the farms into its design.
Chef Niklas Ekstedt inspects microgreens onboard the World Europa docked in Doha, Qatar, in November. A Richmond company developed the technology to grow the greens onboard.
“Installing micro-farms on a commercial cruise ship is a great demonstration of how micro-farms are reimaging the supply chain for fresh produce. Wherever the ship sails, they’ll have their own supply of fresh produce, all year round, no matter the climate outside,” said Alexander Olesen, co-founder of Babylon Micro-Farms, in a statement. “This is just another example of how our micro-farms are creating unique indoor farming experiences in places that no one thought were possible.”
The restaurant’s menu was designed by Swedish chef Niklas Ekstedt and focuses on natural ingredients and a “farm-to-ocean ethos.”
“We’re particularly excited about the opportunity to grow fresh herbs and garnishes for Michelin Star Chef Niklas Eksedt in this world first installation of a vertical farm aboard a commercial cruise liner,” Olesen said.
A space aboard MSC World Europa where Babylon Micro-Farm’s automated hydroponic growing tanks were included in the design is shown.
The company creates indoor farming units that can be controlled remotely to grow vegetables, herbs, and salad greens.
Babylon’s automated farms aboard the World Europa will primarily grow micro-greens used as flavor additives and garnishes. The company’s key innovation is the creation of a technology system that enables its own staff to remotely control light, water and nutrients for its systems. Farms often grow edible plants li
The piloted project with MSC, an Italian global cruise liner, has led the company through regulations around the export of seeds and food overseas, opening the door for more international growth.
Since first coming to Richmond from Charlottesville in 2021, the company increased its number of farms in circulation from 40 to more than 130.
Babylon’s list of partnerships have traditionally been in senior living facilities, offices and higher education. This past year they added IKEA, which has a pilot in its Charlotte, North Carolina, location; LinkedIn; Aramark; and Neiman Marcus, among others.
An image of the recently completed MSC World Europa. A restaurant inside the 6,762-passenger cruise ship completed in 2022 uses automated micro-farms designed by Richmond-based startup Babylon Micro-Farms.
Last year also marked the launch of Babylon’s newest product, Galleri, which was used in the World Europa. Galleri has the same amount of growing space as the previous growing tank, but is about a foot-and-a-half narrower. It also uses 55% less plastic, has updated technology and an updated design. Trays inside the farm are now machine washable, reducing cleaning time from about an hour to 30 minutes.
Babylon also expanded its Scott’s Addition headquarters, adding 10,000 square feet of manufacturing space at 3407 Carlton St., a building joined to its corporate office. That has nearly tripled the company’s capacity to manufacture new farms. It also doubled its number of manufacturing employees while adding some in sales and customer support, for a total around 40 workers.
Tornado damage from June 14, 1951 storm. Photo taken June 23, 1951. Location is Monroe Park.
The 300 block South Lombardy Street after tornado. Storm was June 14, 1951.
Tornado felled trees in front of Commonwealth Club on Franklin St., June 13, 1951.
In March 1956, jazz trumpeter Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong and his All-Stars played a concert at the Mosque, along with Woody Herman and his Third Herd. Ticket prices were $1.50, $2 and $2.50. Four days later, the Mosque was scheduled to host two shows by an emerging star, the day before his self-titled debut studio album was released. His name: Elvis Presley.
In July 1950, heavyweight boxing legend Jack Dempsey came to Richmond as a headline attraction for a different event: He was referee of a wrestling match. He stayed at the Hotel John Marshall, which was certainly more peaceful than City Stadium -- not having lost a punch over the decades, the 55-year-old got involved in the match there and knocked out the tag team partners Dick Lever and Wally Dusek.
South Richmonders had this view of a Dec. 24, 1951, fire on North Side at the F.L. Parsley storage plant on Rady Street. Three fuel oil and kerosene tanks caught fire, sending black smoke across much of the city. More than 100 firefighters were needed to stop the blaze, which threatened a nearby stream, coal yard and other properties. When the owner of neighboring fuel tanks was told that his were saved, he called it "the nicest Christmas present ever."
In January 1957, the University of Richmond's Boatwright Memorial Library created a vivid reflection in Westhampton Lake. Students were in the middle of exam week at the time.
Several stories below the clock itself, four small balconies jut out from the clock tower on Old City Hall in downtown Richmond. In February 1957, building supervisors looked out from the platforms, which once were public observation spots.
NAACP officials Thurgood Marshall (left) and W. Lester Banks made their way to a General Assembly meeting on Feb. 20, 1957. In the years after the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling, Virginia engaged in Massive Resistance to oppose school desegregation.
A view of East Broad Street in downtown Richmond on a cloudy day in October 1954. The distinctive Old City Hall, with its High Victorian Gothic style, is at left, bounded by 10th and 11th streets. The building is a National Historic Landmark.
On March 11, 1952, American poet Robert Frost chatted with students Anne Holmes (left) and Beverly Gilbert at a reception that followed his address and poetry reading at Westhampton College. Two months earlier, he addressed the Woman's Club in Richmond.
In October 1957, Queen Elizabeth II visited Jamestown to mark the 350th anniversary of the nation's first permanent English settlement. The trip, which featured a 21-gun salute upon her arrival at Patrick Henry Airport, included a visit to Williamsburg and the College of William and Mary. The queen returned to Virginia in 2007 for Jamestown's 400th anniversary.
In April 1952, Betsy Marrin and Doris Bolton admired the springtime blooms in the Italian Garden at Maymont Park. In May of that year, during Park and Recreation Week, Maymont opened a nature center in what had been a stone and brick stable.
In March 1957, actor Robert Mitchum stopped in Richmond -- though not for reasons related to his role in the film "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison," which was playing at local theaters. He had visited Virginia weeks earlier to scout for movie locations, and he was returning to the state to interview promising actors with the Barter Theatre in Abingdon.
On April 8, 1952, the Brooklyn Dodgers played an exhibition game in Richmond. In the dugout at Mooers Field Jackie Robinson visits with teammate Don Newcombe - a star pitcher who was on military duty at Camp Pickett.
In April 1952, Eleanor Brown, a student at Brook Hill School, donned a bunny suit for the Richmond Easter Parade. Local public schoolchildren celebrated with egg hunts and early dismissal for the Easter festivities.
In September 1953, lightning flashed over South Richmond during a storm that brought heavy rain and stiff wind to the city.
In May 1950, motorcyclists raced in the 10-Mile National Motorcycle Championship at the Atlantic Rural Exposition grounds in Henrico County. The winner was “Little Joe” Weatherly of Norfolk, who later turned to stock car racing and won NASCAR titles in the 1960s before being killed in a race accident in Riverside, Calif., in 1964.
In November 1951, workers constructed a new lane on Monument Avenue in Henrico County. The truck was occupying what used to be the front yard of a house in the 6500 block. The road was being widened for divided lane traffic in the block between Bevridge Road and Roxbury Road.
In May 1956, area residents enjoyed a refreshing swim in the James River — a reprieve from record high temperatures during the spring month.
In March 1950, four girls played jump-rope in a Richmond city park.
In July 1950, women lounged on a floating platform at a swimming hole that was once a quarry. Starting in the 1800s, the area near what is now Willow Oaks was occupied by a large number of granite quarries. As they closed and were allowed to fill with water, they became popular recreation spots.
In November 1953, a 10-block section of Monument Avenue between Horsepen Road and Keystone Drive in Henrico County began carrying eastbound and westbound traffic on separate sides of the median. About 20 signs were erected to let motorists know that they no longer shared a single side. The change was in anticipation of expanding the configuration to begin at the city limits.
In March 1956, a full house at the Arena in Richmond watched the State Group 1 high school basketball tournament. Admission was $1 per game for adults and 50 cents for students. Newport News High School won the tournament.
On April 9, 1955, the Boston Red Sox topped the New York Giants, 5-2, in an exhibition game seen by more than 12,600 spectators at Parker Field in Richmond. Pictured are center fielders Jimmy Piersall from Boston and Willie Mays of New York. (To that point, only a 1954 exhibition between the New York Yankees and Richmond Virginians drew a larger crowd.) Willie Mays (right) and Jim Piersall April 9, 1955
In January 1955, a snowy slope at Forest Hill Park in Richmond came to life on a cold afternoon. Sledders turned out after school and stayed late on hard-packed snow. Two days before, a snowfall that officially measured 7.6 inches had fallen – it was the most since 1948.
In February 1952, Gene Autry performed shows at the Mosque that included singing, Native American dances, trick-roping and Autry’s famous horse, Champion. Here, Autry met 7-year-old J. Harvie Wilkinson III, now a judge on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who wore his best Western outfit for the occasion.
In September 1952, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was on a whistle-stop tour of Virginia and North Carolina in his campaign for the presidency. Here, he greeted a crowd of 25,000 from his train in Petersburg, the last stop before heading to Richmond for his sixth speech of the day.
In July 1950, heavyweight boxing legend Jack Dempsey came to Richmond as a headline attraction for a different event: He was referee of a wrestling match. Dempsey passed through town the day before the event, and for a bit of relaxation, he got a scalp massage from George Dunn in the Hotel John Marshall barbershop.
This April 1951 image shows the Richmond skyline as seen from the south end of the Lee Bridge. The span in the foreground was a small automobile bridge to Belle Isle, mainly used by employees working on the island. The bridge was largely washed away in rains from the remnants of Hurricane Agnes in 1972, and now only the supports and a small portion on the island remain.
On Nov. 3, 1950, Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Pearl S. Buck addressed the Virginia Teachers Association and Virginia Education Association in separate sessions; the VTA was a black organization. Regarding segregation, she suggested that “in later years we will find teachers of all races meeting here together.”
On Oct. 27, 1953, retired middleweight boxing champion “Sugar Ray” Robinson headlined two shows at the Mosque. Robinson turned to dancing and singing when he stopped boxing in 1952 but resumed fighting in 1955 when his entertainment career waned. During his show in Richmond, he was backed up by Count Basie's orchestra and completed no fewer than five costume changes.
In May 1954, swimmers cooled off on a hot day at Granite Quarry in Chesterfield County. Starting in the 1800s, the area near what is now Willow Oaks was occupied by a large number of granite quarries. As they closed and were allowed to fill with water, they became popular recreation spots.
On July 11, 1950, part of the ceiling of the Park Theater at 810 E. Broad St. collapsed during a showing, injuring 17. The theater, which reopened a month later after repairs, had a long history. It opened as the Lubin in 1909, became the Regent briefly in 1916 before changing name to the Isis in the same year. After closing in 1929, it reopened as the Park in 1938, then closed again in 1953.
On June 13, 1951, a tornado struck Richmond, causing massive damage in its 4-mile path of destruction --including a truck crushed by a fallen tree at Belvidere and Franklin streets downtown.
In November 1954, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother visited Richmond on a U.S. tour. Before a crowd of about 6,000 people at Capitol Square, Gov. Thomas B. Stanley escorted her into the Capitol for a tour.
In September 1953, two boys surveyed the William F. Fox School, which they were ready to attend within days. The Richmond school, on Hanover Avenue in the Fan District, was dedicated in September 1911.
This May 1950 image shows Swift Creek Mill in Chesterfield County. Now home to the local theater, the site was built in 1663 as a gristmill and changed hands and functions many times over the centuries, according to the theater's history. In 1929, operating again as a gristmill, the property became known officially as the Swift Creek Mill and remained in operation until 1956. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In October 1957, U.Va. faced Virginia Tech in the Tobacco Festival football game at City Stadium in Richmond. Here, Virginia's Jim Bakhtiar (feet in air) rolled into the end zone in the first quarter for the first of his four touchdowns. The Cavaliers trounced the Gobblers 38-7.
In March 1950, a surprise 5-inch snowfall covered Richmond and kept traffic on the slushy Lee Bridge moving slowly.
1959 view of a staircase at Old City Hall.
Richmond's triple railroad crossing 4th time in history 3 trains lined up TD Oct 13, 1958
In January 1958, an explosion at Merchants Ice & Cold Storage Co. at Sixth and Byrd streets in downtown Richmond killed seven people and shattered windows up to seven blocks away. Firefighters were quick to the scene but had to retreat as a cloud of ammonia, leaking from refrigeration equipment, hovered over the destruction (there was no fire). In December, a jury decided that the city was at fault, as evidence pointed to a leaking underground gas main.
In February 1956, “Teen Age Party,” a televised music and dancing show for the younger crowd, was broadcast on Saturdays from the WRVA Theatre in downtown Richmond.
In January 1959, protesters marched through the rain to the state Capitol in Richmond to support school integration. In the midst of the state’s Massive Resistance to the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, protests were mounting across Virginia. Richmond schools were not integrated until 1970.
In early December 1954, Richmond got an early dose of winter, with 2 inches of wet snow and record cold temperatures. The cold made clearing the streets difficult, which led to three-hour delays for some commuters. Here, a city flusher washed snow and slush from Broad Street downtown. Four such vehicles were put to work to clear city streets.
In November 1957, three stores opened for business in Southside Plaza, then part of Chesterfield County. They were (from left) Giant Food, Peoples Drug Store and G.C. Murphy Co. The formal grand opening of the shopping center was held in March 1958.
This May 1959 image shows construction along Patterson Avenue between Libbie and Maple avenues in Richmond. This block had just reopened to traffic, but ongoing work continued to block passage to the east of the shopping center.
In September 1958, a yard full of bicycles made clear that classes were back in session at Westhampton School in Richmond. The school dates to 1917; in late 2013, Bon Secours Virginia Health System announced plans to renovate the complex for use as a nursing college and medical imaging school.
In May 1958, Bill Shockley of Greenville, S.C., spun out in an eight-lap midget auto heat on the half-mile dirt track at the State Fairgrounds. About 1,800 spectators turned out for the day’s racing, which featured a 25-lap final race.
In September 1959, Jimmy Harrison gave some friends a ride to school in his antique car. The student at Douglas Freeman High School in Henrico County spent his entire summer vacation rebuilding the car.
In March 1959, Donnie and Bobby Alvis enjoyed the first days of spring in Richmond with appropriate seasonal company: a baby lamb and new blossoms.
In June 1958, Reynolds Metals Co. employees Ethel Blue (left) and Bonnie Foy enjoyed some sun at the company’s new office space in Henrico County. The $10 million complex sprawled over 40 acres on a 160-acre property. Reynolds spent more than $150,000 on landscaping, including more than 10,000 trees, shrubs and plants as well as a green house that supplied fresh flowers for the building.
This March 1959 image shows the Richmond skyline from the south bank of the James River.
In July 1959, cars were parked along 17th Street in Richmond looking toward Main Street.
In January 1958, Judy Moss, a Hermitage High School freshman took a spin on roller skates as she practiced her routine at the Arena, a roller-skating rink at Boulevard and Hermitage Road. At the time, Judy was one of the most promising skaters in the Richmond area and was working to master some of the most difficult tasks of the rink.
In September 1958, a bridge that was part of a Belvidere Street extension project near Chamberlayne Avenue in Richmond neared completion.
In April 1959, the Town Motel had just opened at Belvidere and Rowe streets near the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond. The motel had 26 units, and nightly rates began at $5.
In July 1958, George Richardson of Richmond glided along the Rappahannock River in his yacht, Hummingbird. The vessel, which he used for cruises on the Rappahannock and Chesapeake Bay and for fishing trips, was part of the Richmond-based Flotilla 51, a Coast Guard auxiliary unit.
In February 1958, a line of vehicles moved along Chamberlayne Avenue at Lombardy Street on Richmond’s North Side. The passenger in the first car waved excitedly to the photographer in the median; the ad banner on the bus reads “Big Color TV is Here.”
In June 1959, cars filled the parking lot at Parker Field as about 6,500 people watched the Richmond Virginians split a double-header with the Buffalo Bisons and retain the lead of the International League. The local baseball team drew more than 18,500 fans in total for single games on Friday and Saturday and the Sunday double-header.
In January 1958, this horse and wagon raced through the streets of Church Hill in Richmond before stopping after hitting a car. Horse owner Chester C. Sully said he was making a coal delivery when the horse got startled by a noise and took off on a five-minute gallop, which ended around Jefferson Avenue and 23rd Street, where the wagon broke the car’s windshield and left rear window.
This June 1958 image shows buildings at Fifth and Marshall streets in downtown Richmond that were soon to be razed to make way for a parking lot. The buildings to be demolished were to the right of Diggs & Beadles Seed Co. Inc.
In August 1942, white visitors enjoyed a day at Wilcox Lake in Petersburg. The swimming facility was segregated, and the lake was closed by the city in 1958 to prevent integration. It was never officially reopened for swimming (though in the 1960s, fishing was permitted at the lake).
In September 1958, a Chesterfield County farmer welcomed the sight of rain clouds, though they didn’t yield any rain. The area was enduring a three-week dry spell at the time.
In October 1958, a street-widening project continued along Patterson Avenue in Richmond’s West End. The 5600 and 5700 blocks had been closed since early August; the full project called for widening Patterson between Maple and Commonwealth avenues.
In May 1958, Richmond Mayor F. Henry Garber crowned Grace Jacqueline Allen as Miss Virginia during a ceremony at the Jefferson Hotel downtown. In addition to winning a trip to the Miss Virginia contest in Roanoke the next month, Allen received a silver bowl, a $200 scholarship, jewelry and cosmetics. She was a student at the Richmond Professional Institute.
In January 1964, Jewell Mason, one of Richmond’s few female cab drivers, chatted with her husband, Otha, who also drove cabs. Mason, who started working for the Yellow Cab Co. in 1958, said she never had issues because of her gender. But she did note that women drivers were unjustly maligned: “Women are as careful as anyone else,” she said.
In July 1959, Phyllis Grove (from left), Alta Strickland and David Fridley analyzed cigarette smoke using a gas chromatograph at Philip Morris in Richmond. A story about area laboratories and scientists noted that medical concerns about smoking had spurred the tobacco industry. It said, in part: “The cancer-cigarette link may be pretty poor science, as some say, but it is indirectly producing some very good research.”
In January 1958, traffic moved through the intersection of Grace and Belvidere streets in Richmond. At the time, police called it was the most accident-prone intersection in the city.
In March 1959, postman Sam H. Mellichampe delivered mail in a long line of boxes at a trailer park near Petersburg. He said the row of mailboxes was the longest on his route. Mellichampe previously was a sergeant for 10 years on the Prince George County police force.
In December 1959, the Seventh Street parking garage in downtown Richmond was the largest of 54 properties, valued collectively at about $1.2 million, that were slated for condemnation by the city as part of plans to build a civic center.
In February 1959, the parking lot was full at the new Food Fair grocery store on West Broad Street in Richmond, near downtown. The chain, founded in Pennsylvania, was one of the largest in the country at the time and was planning a half-dozen or more stores in the Richmond area. (The grand opening here was supposed to feature retired Army Gen. Omar Bradley, who was on Food Fair’s board of directors, but he instead had to appear as a witness at a trial.)
In May 1959, Ronald Yaffe performed a levitation magic trick. Yaffe, a 19-year-old freshman at Richmond Professional Institute, planned to study optometry but enjoyed performing magic as a hobby.
In October 1958, chemists Owen R. Blackburne (left) and Bill Simmons distilled volatile acids at the Richmond Sewage Disposal headquarters near Rocketts Landing.
In March 1959, employees of the Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles on West Broad Street in Richmond prepared for an onslaught of customers before doors opened for business.
In November 1959, Mrs. Frank L. Jobson (seated) and Adele Clark admired a banner for the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia, which they helped form 50 years earlier in Richmond. Women won the constitutional right to vote in 1920 – “and neither of us has missed an election since 1920,” Clark said.
In May 1958, Homer E. Pate, whose arms and legs were paralyzed, worked in leather craft as part of his rehabilitation. With him was Margaret Williams, an occupational therapist at McGuire Veterans Administration Hospital in Richmond.
This July 1955 photo shows the view from Richmond’s Chimborazo Hill at twilight, looking across Fulton and the James River. The photo accompanied a “Capital Sidelights” column by Charles McDowell Jr. that promoted the sunset views from the hill.
In May 1952, new policewoman Martha S. Jackson placed one of her first tickets on an illegally parked car. Jackson, one of Richmond's first full-fledged female traffic officials with full police authority, was tasked with pedestrian education and enforcement when the “walk/don't walk” lights began operation on Broad Street, as well as car tagging and intersection assignments.
In April 1952, Know-Your-Bank Week activities in Richmond included behind-the-scenes tours for bank customers and school students. Here, students from Thomas Jefferson High School were given a look inside the State-Planters Bank and Trust Co. vault by assistant cashier Ramon G. Smith. Gov. John S. Battle first designated such a week in 1950.
In August 1950, Richmond City Clerk William T. Wells (left) swore in attorney Lewis F. Powell Jr. as member of the Richmond School Board. In 1971, Powell was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Richard M. Nixon, and he served from 1972 until resigning in mid-1987. Powell died in 1998 and is buried in Hollywood Cemetery.
On April 14, 1951, the Deep Run races were held at the Atlantic Rural Exposition fairgrounds, now known as the Richmond Raceway Complex. The co-feature was the Richmond Plate race, a 2-mile course that Crown Royal led over the first jump before finishing third, eight lengths behind winner Flying Wing.
In April 1951, W.H. Childress’ coonhound won best of breed at the Virginia Kennel Club’s 17th annual dog show at the Atlantic Rural Exposition fairgrounds. The club was first organized in October 1902, and while it put on some shows before 1935, it did not begin a consistent schedule until then.
In September 1950, the Cary Street resurfacing project was approaching completion. As part of a larger resurfacing and repair project across the city, Cary was repaved with blacktop between Belmont and Nansemond streets by Richmond’s Department of Public Works.
This December 1951 image shows the “Tummyache” persimmon tree in the back of Retreat for the Sick Hospital at Grove Avenue and Mulberry Street in Richmond. According to the story, in about 1922, the 6-year-old son of a preacher-farmer in Powhatan County kept eating persimmons one day until he developed a stomachache and was brought to the hospital. A doctor removed about a pint of seeds from the child’s stomach – and then planted one, which became this tree.
This April 1951 image shows St. Andrew’s School in Richmond’s Oregon Hill area. Noted philanthropist Grace Arents founded the school in 1894 and was a key supporter of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. The school offered a wide range of programs, including sewing, music and physical education. It still stands today, serving low-income children.
In October 1950, Virginia Randolph attended the cornerstone-laying ceremony for a $262,000 addition to the former one-room schoolhouse in Glen Allen that she started in 1892 and that was named for her. In 1949, Randolph retired at age 79 from a long career that encompassed teaching and supervising teacher training and curriculums for black schools in the Richmond area. Randolph, whose efforts focused heavily on vocational education, died in 1958.
In July 1954, the boys choir sang in All Saints Episcopal Church, which was then on West Franklin Street. The following year, the church decided to move to River Road; the former building has since been torn down.
Pond Liner In late summer 1951, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway ran its first diesel-powered locomotives through Richmond on two of its passenger trains. Here, train engineer Mr. Denton got orders from stationmaster Mr. Boykin. By the end of the year, the company hoped to have most of the steam locomotives in its line replaced with diesel-electric ones.