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Richmond Renaissance Inc. records

Identifier: M 303

Scope and Content Information

The Richmond Renaissance Archives include correspondence, minutes, newspaper and journal clippings, various publications, reports, photographs, slides, and various promotional materials dating from 1956 through 1995. The bulk of the collection dates from 1982 through 1994 and focuses on Richmond Renaissance's activities to foster downtown Richmond revitalization. The collection documents the organization's involvement with a number of initiatives in the city, including the development of the city's riverfront properties, redevelopment of the downtown area, including Broad Street, and Jackson Ward neighborhood, and its planning, promotion and leadership in the development of the Sixth Street Marketplace.


  • 1956-1995

Access Restrictions

Materials in Series II, Box 6 are restricted.

Use Restrictions

The are no restrictions.

Biographical/Historical Information

Richmond Renaissance Inc. is a non-profit, bi-racial, public-private corporation formed in 1981 to foster economic development in downtown Richmond. Its first major project was the 6th Street Marketplace, which opened in 1985. Revitalization of Richmond's historic Jackson Ward neighborhood and improvements to the city's downtown riverfront property were two other major initiatives in which Richmond Renaissance has played an active role. Richmond Renaissance has been involved with other projects, including the Jackson Center office building, the Belle Isle pedestrian bridge and Canal Walk, increased downtown parking, the Cultural Link Trolley Project, the Broad Street Task Force and numerous other efforts to foster economic development

The role and direction of Richmond Renaissance is overseen by its officers, many of whom are city officials, and a large board of directors (64 members in 1997). The board is comprised of prominent citizens, members of the business community, and various other city representatives. The Executive Committee manages the organization and includes members of the board, officers, and members of the Executive Staff. It is the Executive Staff which manages the day to day activities. The first Executive Director was J. Randall Evans, who served from October 1982 until December 1986. Clarence L. Townes, Jr. was the Deputy Director during that time. Townes then served as acting director from December 1986 to August 1987 when Robert E. Olson was named Executive Director. Townes continued as Deputy Director. In November 1991 Olson left to become Executive Director of the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park and Mr. Townes was named Executive Director.

In the fall of 1996, Richmond Renaissance Inc. merged with two other city organizations that had been promoting economic development in Richmond, the Central Richmond Association (CRA), begun in the early 1950s, and Downtown Richmond Inc. The merger was described as an attempt to unify "fund-raising efforts and to more effectively address Downtown issues." Townes continues in his position as Executive Director after the merger. Frances N. Johns, former director of CRA, was appointed Assistant Executive Director of Richmond Renaissance.


80 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The first deposit of the collection, consisting of about one third of the materials, was deposited to Special Collections and Archives (SCA) in transfile boxes labeled by subject (i.e. Jackson Ward, Sixth Street Marketplace). The collection was arranged to reflect this subject division, arranged topically by series and alphabetically therein. The second deposit of the collection has not been fully processed although it is inventoried and is accessible to researchers. Materials in this section of the archives will eventually be transferred to the appropriate collection series. Most of the original office folder headings have been maintained in the processing of this collection.


The collection is divided into seven series. Series I--Jackson Ward (n.d., 1964-1992) consists of materials relating to the redevelopment of Jackson Ward, a historic African-American Richmond neighborhood. This series also contains information on Broad Street, the Church Hill neighborhood, and other downtown revitalization initiatives. Series II--Riverfront (n.d., 1983-1991) is composed of material on various projects associated with the city's Riverfront area, including the Canal Walk, Belle Isle, and the James River Discovery Program. Series III--Sixth Street Marketplace (n.d., 1956-1986) documents the early years of the Sixth Street Marketplace project, from its planning stages to the first few years of its existence. Series IV--General Office Files and Correspondence (n.d., 1982-1989) contains the organization's general office file and correspondence. This series also contains material relating to projects other than those in the first three sections of the collection.

Series V--Miscellaneous Reports and Publications (n.d., 1980-1990) includes publications produced by the city, the state, the federal government, numerous organizations and publishers -- all relating to urban and regional planning. Series VI--Photographs, Slides, Video and Audio Tapes (n.d., 1984-1991) contains photographs, slides, and other media documenting many of the organization's endeavors -- including about three dozen large poster size placards used for presentations on Broad Street buildings and other redevelopment projects. The last series in the collection, Series VII, is made up of the second deposit of materials made by Richmond Renaissance, Inc. and includes materials found in the previous six sections of the collection. These materials date in range from 1969-1995 and will be placed in the appropriate sections of the collection in the future.

Series I--Jackson Ward (n.d., 1964-1992)

Series II--Riverfront (n.d., 1983-1991)

Series III--Sixth Street Marketplace (n.d., 1956-1986);

Series V--Miscellaneous Reports and Publications (n.d., 1980-1990)

Series VI--Photographs, Slides, Video and Audio Tapes (n.d., 1984-1991)

Series VII--Unprocessed Portion of Collection (n.d., 1969-1995)

Acquisition Information

The first donation from Richmond Renaissance Inc. Executive Director Clarence L. Townes, Jr. was made October 11, 1996, consisting of approximately 33 linear feet. A second donation from Richmond Renaissance Inc. occurred two years later, October 10, 1996, when the organization merged that month with the Central Richmond Association and Downtown Richmond Inc. This second donation consisted of 120 linear feet (many of which were oversize items, including posters and other large display materials).

Processing Information

Collection processed in May 1997.

A Guide to the Richmond Renaissance Inc. records,1956-1995
A Collection in Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library Collection Number M 303
Ray Bonis, J. Malcom McNeill, and Cadrina Skinner
© 2002 By Copyright Virginia Commonwealth University. All Rights Reserved.
Language of description
Script of description
Web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the VCU James Branch Cabell Library Repository

Special Collections and Archives 901 Park Avenue
Richmond Virginia 23284 USA US
(804) 828-1108