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What’s the Story with the Egyptian Pump House in Swansboro?

Buried on an otherwise humble street, the Egyptian pump house located at 2313 Wise Street stands out. Owned by the City of Richmond’s Department of Public Works, the mausoleum-like structure is a surprising find in the austere area.

The exact spot where the pump house is located is a bit of a mashup. Stuck between a residential neighborhood to its northwest, industrial remnants of Manchester’s tobacco prowess to the southeast, and the once prominent Hull Street commercial/business corridor to the south, the area finds itself pulled in multiple directions. Frankly, it’s a miracle this old building has survived in such a good condition for its age.

Despite a lot of digging, the building does not give up its secrets easily. My friends at Virginia’s Department of Historical Resources have offered to see what they can learn about the building. While we continue to dig, does anyone know anything about the history of this cool building?

UPDATED 6/25/17 4:30 PM

According to the stone marker on the side corner of the building that we didn’t see on the first trip:

“Here rest more than one hundred South Carolina soldiers who died in the hospital in Manchester VA.

1861 – 1865

Elliot Grays Chapter

United Daughters of the Cofederacy

Erected October 6, 1939″

This would answer why it looks like a mausoleum…because it is. But why did the City decide to use it as a pump house if it is a graveyard for Confederate Civil War Dead? That seems really strange. The plot thickens…

UPDATED 6/25/17 8:30 PM

According to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the reason Confederate soldiers were buried here was because of the properties’ association with the Weisiger-Carroll house at 2408 Bainbridge Street which acted as a Civil War hospital.

 

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42 thoughts on “What’s the Story with the Egyptian Pump House in Swansboro?

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  1. Evan Garrison , very cool. That building sure looks to me like it predates the annexation in 1910. But it has the prominent DPW in the entry and the City of Richmond sign as well. Perhaps those were added later??? Seems odd as they look original. Who knows is right! Quite the mystery…

  2. UPDATED 6/25/17 4:30 PM According to the stone marker on the side corner of the building that we didn’t see on the first trip:"Here rest more than one hundred South Carolina soldiers who died in the hospital in Manchester VA. 1861 – 1865. Elliot Grays ChapterUnited Daughters of the Cofederacy Erected October 6, 1939." This would answer why it looks like a mausoleum…because it is. But why did the City decide to use it as a pump house if it is a graveyard for Confederate Civil War Dead? That seems really strange. The plot thickens…

  3. UPDATED 6/25/17 8:30 PM According to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the reason Confederate soldiers were buried here was because of the properties’ association with the Weisiger-Carroll house at 2408 Bainbridge Street which acted as a Civil War hospital.

  4. Very interesting building. Egyptian Revival was something Richmond fooled with in the 19th century (MCV) but this is such a later building and if it was built in the late 1930s, stands as a rare example of Deco-ish municipal architecture in a city that almost wholly embraced the range of Colonial Revival styles that were parallel to Deco and Streamline. The marker is of a different age than the structure, are you sure they are related? I will see if I can find anything out. Curious.

  5. It is all very confusing. That the marker makes no mention of the mausoleum, or the Weisiger-Carroll house itself (just a simple reference to a hospital), creates a bit of a jigsaw puzzle with multiple missing pieces. Hopefully DHR can straighten this out so that it isn’t left for interpretation. The spot deserves a proper NPS historical marker explaining all of this when considering the significance IMHO.

  6. According to the City Online Property Records the mausoleum was built on or before 1900. It appears the marker erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, not the building, was erected in 1939. That seems to add up.

  7. OK, so the marker has nothing to do with the building…Hmm. That style would really not be something that would be built in 1900, like, at all? Really something I would expect closer to the 20s. Wonder if the city property records date is wrong (they often are as we all know 🙂 )

  8. It’s a really cool structure, and definitely an interesting mystery! I would imagine it would have been illustrated in an architectural journal, I no longer have access to the databases but VCU libraries could probably help you (digitized historical journals of the period).

  9. Sara Moriarty, the whole reason I know about this building is actually because of the folks at DHR. It is a bit of a long story, but they seem to be genuinely interested in helping figure it all out. Stay tuned…

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