Richmond, VA.
Photography by John G. DeMajo (
The old pump house at Byrd Park is the second pumping station constructed in the history of Richmond, VA. Built in 1882, this facility pumped water from the canal in the foreground and raised it up to a reservoir in Byrd Park. Water from the canal and river was served directly to the homes and businesses of Richmond directly and without treatment until 1909. Because of runoff from manure and other bacteria which found its way into the river, the water supply was often a source of disease. In 1909, settling basins were constructed upstream of the pumps, and in 1914, a chlorine treatment program was begun. The building's walls are made of heavy stone in order to handle the pressure of moving water against the structure. A pipe at the end of the building served as the city water intake, and openings in the lower walls allowed water to enter to feed the turbines which drove the pumps. The lower level of the building served as the equipment room, while the upper level served as a dance hall and public gathering place. A modern pumping station to the left of the photograph, replaced the old station, and the original pumps were dismantled and sold as scrap metal to Japan just before the start of World War II. Today, there are plans for the restoration of the facility as a museum or gathering place.
This newer facility, located at the left end of the original building, was the next in a succession of three pump stations located at the site. It too was abandoned in favor of the third and most modern facility again to the extreme left in the photo.
A view of Pump house Water Park which is built along the original canal that feeds the pumping stations.
View of the pump house from the left end of the station. Below, architectural detail along the original dance hall gallery.