Portraits + Words

Photographs by VCUarts photography students, with excerpts of interviews conducted by students from University of Richmond, are featured in Made in Church Hill, on view at the Valentine, January 22-June 28, 2015.

Photographs were taken in the sitter’s home, church, or other place of significance.

Ila Booker

Retired Teacher & Lifetime Member of Fourth Baptist Church
Interviewed October 23, 2014 and November 10, 2014
Photographed by Steven Casanova, Dominque Munoz, and Kiersten Koenig

I was born in Norfolk and my mother moved [with me] back to Richmond when I was four years old.

Sunday mornings, we had to go to Sunday School but you heard the Wings over Jordan [choir] singing [on the radio]. And of course, when we left Sunday School, if you didn’t put your pennies in the Sunday School [collection plate], you went to the drugstore and bought candy.

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Algernon Brown

Deacon, Fourth Baptist Church
Interviewed October 23, 2014 and November 10, 2014  
Photographed by Steven Casanova and Whitney Cole

I was baptized here 76 years ago.  I’ve always been in attendance since my parents brought me in their arms.

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Regula Franz & Lothar Pausevang

Regula Franz 

Longtime Church Hill Resident
Interviewed October 4, 2014
Photographed by Liesa Collins and Carson Parris

I’m a photographer.  That’s how I came to Richmond. I have lived here since 1990.  In the ‘90s, a lot of friends, who were mostly European, lived in Church Hill because it  really reminds us of Europe. Everything is so close together.  Everything is old.

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Kirsten Gray

Second-Generation Church Hill Resident
Interviewed October 4, 2014
Photographed by Whitney Cole, Carson Parris, and Liesa Collins

I run the Eric Schindler Art Gallery. My parents moved the gallery here in 1965. it. I was born in ’67. I was baptized at St. Patrick’s Church. And we lived above the gallery, which is very old fashioned. It’s the oldest commercial gallery still operating in the city. I actually birthed my second child in the home, and I also took care of my mom, who died in the home.

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David Herring & Greta Harris

David Herring

VP, Center for Neighborhood Revitalization, Better Housing Coalition
Interviewed November 14, 2014
Photographed by Steven Casanova and Liesa Collins

My daughter is at Armstrong [High School]. She is the only white girl and she’s not bothered by that because she’s lived in Church Hill her whole life. That school is a little gem.

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Skip Long

Church Hill Resident and Principal, Church Hill Academy
Interviewed October 4, 2014
Photographed by Steven Casanova and Whitney Cole

I’m the principal of Church Hill Academy. Every Monday and Tuesday, 17 community kids come to my house for tutoring. That’s what we want to be about–opening up and sharing what we have with others in the community to continue making it a vibrant place.

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Dr. Akida T. Mensah

Project Coordinator of the 1982 Church Hill Oral History Project;  Associate Minister, Fourth Baptist
Interviewed October 23, November 10, & November 17 2014
Photographed by Steven Casanova, Dominique Munoz, and Kiersten Koenig

I had the feeling that I was supposed to be a preacher when I was about 11 years old.  I didn’t make that a realization until  ‘92.

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John Murden

Founder, Church Hill People’s News   
Interviewed October 4, 2014
Photographed by Carson Parris, Whitney Cole, and Liesa Collins

I went to VCU for art school back in the day and then Mary Baldwin. I had a  teaching degree and was a middle school teacher up here at MLK [Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School] for almost ten years. I taught sixth grade history, but when we had the baby I stopped teaching, so I could stay home.

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Esther Quarles

Girl Scout Leader, Fourth Baptist Church 
Interviewed October 23, 2014 and November 10, 2014
Photographed by Steven Casanova, Dominque Munoz, and Kiersten Koenig

I came here at age eight, and I’ve lived here ever since.  Even now, I can go back into my neighborhood and for those neighbors who are there, it’s like old times.  We’ll sit down and we’ll talk and reminisce about things that we did.  It was just awesome then. And you look at today what the kids are going through. It’s quite different.

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C. Maurice Sydnor

Deacon, Fourth Baptist Church
Interviewed October 23, 2014 and November 10, 2014
Photographed by Jon-Philip Sheridan

I can remember mama needed some bread or some sugar, some flour.  She’d go next door, across the street, leave a note on the table, ’cause nobody locked the doors.  Half of them didn’t have keys.

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John Taylor III, Esq.

Third-Generation Church Hill Resident
Interviewed November 7, 2014
Photographed by Liesa Collins and Carson Parris

I’m one of six kids—I’m a triplet. I was brought home from the hospital to this house.  I have a 100-plus year history in Richmond—I’m a third generation of black businessmen.   My grandfather started a coal and ice business—coal for furnaces and fires, and ice for the old refrigerators. I was born February 6, 1955. Brown vs. Board of Education was December 1954. My father taught me what he knew, which was stay in your place. Don’t go across town, don’t talk to white people, stay in the community.  That’s a safe place.

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LaFran Walker & Margaret Gaines

LaFran Walker,
Deaconess, Fourth Baptist Church
Interviewed October 23, 2014 and November 10, 2014
Photographed by Steven Casanova and Whitney Cole

On Sunday mornings when you were coming to church, you heard the church chimes all over Church Hill, drawing you into church.

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