James Dickinson photo
The present resident of 3508 Seminary Ave., Ales Rowe, doesn't know why the left entrance column of her house is carved with the name "Anchorage." She laughs, "Maybe it's because whoever lives here doesn't ever want to leave."
The house on Seminary Avenue is approximately 5,000 square feet with 17 rooms (including two enclosed porches) on three floors. The uppermost floor is a separate apartment, built, Rowe says, for a past resident's daughter.
"[The house] seems to have been added onto as they went along," Rowe says. The house has had but four owners, including Rowe, since its circa-1915 construction.
The first resident was civil engineer T. Crawford Redd. At that time, the house was numbered 622 Seminary and was one of the first built on the avenue. During the street's 1920s expansion, the earlier houses were renumbered.
Redd and his brother formed a civil-engineering and surveying company and maintained offices at various downtown locations. Upon Redd's death at age 82 in October 1940, the "widely known Richmond engineer" was eulogized by the Richmond News Leader.
"Mr. Redd's father [James T. Redd] began surveying in 1855," the writer recalled. "Those were the days of lines set by ‘a certain sycamore tree' or the ‘big rock in the meadow.' " Redd apprenticed under his father and was for many years the warden of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, which his father co-founded. "Picturesque and vital," the editorialist remembered of Redd, "he was an institution in himself." His valuable plats, maps and surveys are in the Library of Virginia.
Redd moved from Seminary Avenue in the mid-1920s, and the next residents of the home were Frank V. Fowlkes and his family. The city directories' residential index consistently lists him as "Dr.," but in the personal name section, he and son Francis are variously listed as traveling salesmen or representatives, though a few times in the mid-1930s, the senior Fowlkes is listed as "physician." A daughter, Eliza V. Fowlkes, was a clerk stenographer at the Life Insurance Company of Virginia. Frank seems to have died somewhere between 1937 and 1938.
The next year, the Riley family moved in — Charles L., manager of the Glens Falls Indemnity Co.; a son, Charles Russell; and at least two daughters, Florence and Virginia. Florence worked in sales at the downtown Berry-Burke clothiers, while Virginia was an artist and designer for Thalhimers, Richmond Art Company and La Vogue.
Charles Russell Riley was the first chief of surgery at St. Mary's Hospital and on its founding medical staff in 1966. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1936. During World War II, he was a surgeon assigned to the Ninth Armored Division. In a 2001 Times-Dispatch obituary (written by Richmond magazine contributor Chris Dovi), Riley, 83 when he died, was described as "witness to terrible suffering, [and] he was affected by his wartime experience throughout his life."
The elder Riley remained with Glen Falls Indemnity until his death sometime between late 1956 and early 1957. The Rowes purchased the house in 1963. Ales Rowe, a wife, mother and actress, plans to move on to a more manageable space in the near future.