Art Deco Architecture Tour of Virginia

Nine art deco destinations in the Old Dominion.

Some of Virginia’s historic art deco buildings are awaiting restoration, some have been rescued from the ravages of time, and still others are being converted for modern use, but all evoke the splendor of the jazz age. 

Central National Bank Building

219 E. Broad Street, Richmond

Virginia’s first art deco skyscraper, the CNB raised eyebrows when first built. Now it’s hard to imagine the Richmond skyline without it. The 1930 John Eberson-designed, 23-story structure, adorned with intricately florid ceiling patterns and colorful terrazzo floors, is currently being renovated for apartments.

West Hospital, Richmond

1200 E. Broad Street, Richmond 804-828-9000

Richmond’s other deco needle is a 1941 “open armed” structure—crucifix in shape—designed by Baskervil and Sons and located on the MCV campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. It is in danger of being demolished, but the Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods (ACORN) is working to save the building.

Allied Arts Building

725 Church Street, Lynchburg 434-846-8640

This 17-story jewel, utilizing yellow brick and limestone, is like the Central National Bank building’s younger sister. Lynchburg architects Stanhope Johnson and Addison Staples, who were masters at Georgian design, admitted to cribbing ideas by studying constructions then being built in New York City. Problem was: They forgot to include an elevator, which was hastily added six months after construction.

The Hippodrome

528 N. 2nd Street, Richmond  804-266-2021

A rare latecomer to the style, this Jackson Ward venue was built in 1914 as a vaudeville house but suffered a fire in 1945; it was rebuilt in handsome deco fashion one year later. Once a local showplace for African-American entertainers such as Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, it was shut down for years until a full renovation in 2011. Now, with its bold deco marquee lighting up “the Deuce,” the Hipp is back to hosting concerts, parties and the occasional theatrical production.  

Thomas Jefferson High School

4100 West Grace Street, Richmond  804-780-6028

Some have called the three-story building crowned with a pyramidal tower and a planetarium, and highlighted by a large deco-styled clock, an art deco temple. In need of a serious renovation, the exterior features stone carved murals about the founding of America.

Walter Hoffmann United States Courthouse

600 Granby Street, Norfolk  757-222-7300

The 1932 limestone and granite trapezoidal building, still in use as a courthouse, showcases a time when the deco influence spreading internationally had found its way to America’s most respectable institutions and was renamed art moderne.

Coca-Cola Bottling Company

722 Preston Avenue, Charlottesville

A stately two-story, concrete structure that once boasted large plate-glass windows on the first floor so that passersby could view the bottling process, was built in 1939 and recently purchased by Indoor Biotechnologies, which hopes to set up a research center inside the former cola maker. Its first mission has been to restore those beautiful windows.

Henrico Theatre

305 E. Nine Mile Rd., Highland Springs 804-328-4491

Bulging out like a pregnant toaster, this is a classic deco movie house, now in use after being dormant for years. It was built in 1938 and boasts a terrazzo base, a whimsical clock and “Henrico” emblazoned in can’t-miss red.

Model Tobacco Plant

1100 Jefferson Davis Highway, Richmond

Earmarked for future apartment living (although renovations have been slow), this six-story bread box is adorned with imposing nine foot capital letters that still seem futuristic and startling, 75 years after construction.

June 11, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
July 9, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
August 13, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum