History and Reminiscences of the Monumental Church


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Item#: 116866 price:$500.00

History and Reminiscences of the Monumental Church


FISHER, George D. History and Reminiscences of the Monumental Church, Richmond, VA., from 1814 to 1878. Richmond: Whittet & Shepperson, 1880. Octavo, original black cloth, original dust jacket. $500.

First edition of this history of the construction and functioning of Richmond's Monumental Church, in rare original dust jacket.

This work shares the archival record of the construction, establishment, and use of the historic Monumental Church in Richmond, built in remembrance of the 1811 Richmond Theatre fire. In 1811, Richmond was a thriving cultural community, particularly known for performances at the Richmond Theatre. However, in December of that year, disaster struck the Richmond Theatre. As a wood-frame building, the theater was at constant risk of fire. During a performance, a piece of stage scenery caught on fire after a young worker raised the cords on a still-lit chandelier. Aware of what had happened, he fled the theater but failed to raise an alert. The fire quickly spread to the 35 surrounding pieces of scenery still hanging in the rafters and, from there, moved to structural parts of the theater. The fire was temporarily hidden from the theater-goers by the thick stage curtains. When the audience realized what was happening, a stampede ensued. There were only a few exits from the theater—two of them relatively inaccessible—and people were knocked down and trampled in the rush to get to the door. Some clustered by upper-floor windows, trying to work up the courage to jump. While many were caught by people on the ground—one former slave helped catch over a dozen people and became a hero—many others were terrified to jump, particularly in a time when a broken bone or cut could easily lead to death. Ultimately, over 70 people died and were burned completely to ash inside the theater including the Virginia governor and a U.S. Senator. Their ashes were interred in a subterranean crypt. Almost immediately, the city began making plans for a memorial on the site. Chief Justice John Marshall commissioned an Episcopal church—the Monumental Church—on the theater's former land and it was built between 1812 and 1814. Designed by architect Robert Mills, Thomas Jefferson's only pupil, the Monumental Church was a beautiful and important example of Greek Revival in America. The church became a popular place of worship for those in the higher echelons of society, such as the Marquis de Lafayette.

Book with inner paper hinges starting, faint discoloration to rear board, gilt extremely bright. Dust jacket with light foxing, a couple very tiny holes, faint evidence of tape repair, and slight rubbing to extremities. A near-fine copy.

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