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Is This Vienna?…Paris?…Rome?…Would You Believe. . . .

April 29, 2012

Can this be Vienna?…Paris?…Rome?…A beautiful Renaissance palace in Florence, Italy?  The Palazzo Medici Riccardi of the Medici family?  Mmmmmm…Possibly…Renaissance?…Yes…Only fast forward from the 15th century to the late 19th century.  It is Italian Renaissance Revival, not Florence, Italy, but Main St. Station, Richmond (1500 East Main St.) Virginia, USA!  The Medici family wanted to live a low profile since their return from exile, rejecting Bunelleschi influenced architect Bartolomeo’s earlier plan, but inside the Palace was another story!  Main St. Station is possibly closer in looks to the architectural plans that didn’t happen!

Facade of Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence,...

Facade of Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It does have connections to Europe, it was the British Embassy in Vienna in 2004 for the television series Alias.  I have been wanting to return to the handsome “Renaissance Revival beauty” to take more pictures.  I got my chance when I dropped my sister off to catch the Mega Bus (inexpensive bus travel for those that have more time on their hands but can have long delays), Amtrak is faster and more expensive with no delays. The travel options are increasing, a high speed train is in the not too distant future.

I took about ten pictures my first visit.  This week, I took about thirty-five, including the interior. A great photo-op for any picture taker.

The Station (1500 East Main St., Richmond, VA)built in 1901 in the Beaux Arts Style was adapted to what is termed the Second Renaissance Revival Style.  54.1 million dollars was spent on the renovation, transforming a partially fire gutted building with additional problems, but what a transformation!  I understand the Train Shed may become a shopping area once again, but that is tentative.  In its recent past it housed government offices.  What’s for certain is the Station is to be the northern terminus of the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor. It will become a very busy place!  Currently Amtrak commuter trains to Washington D.C. use the station.  There didn’t appear to be much train traffic for a weekday afternoon.  Only one other person besides myself, a gentleman waiting for a train for the hour I was there, although several travelers arrived as I was leaving.  All that will change with the high speed train! I hope the appearance of the station doesn’t change too much.  My advice would be to visit it now.

As you can see by the photos below it is a beautiful building that rivals many old buildings in Europe, with an American flair!  Something else about this building, the Stations’ huge rooms can be rented out for weddings (yes, for the entire event!) (railroad enthusiasts take note), parties, etc.  It’s an incredibly beautiful interior, even more so in person.  It has an honest American elegance without being “over done.”.

If you like these pictures some of them will be available as prints at; Maisonarmoire.etsy.com, or e-mail me for info on prints.  Usually photography with at least 12X pixels looks better than on a computer screen because of its lower pixel density.

This was taken across Main St. in the parking area. Note the train trestles to the right, some of the oldest in the US.

More of the old trestles on one side of the parking area.

Station without the editing effects

Stairs leading to center front lobby entrance, marble stairway to 2nd floor and left office entrance with stairway to 2nd floor.

Look closely and you will see the “kneeling balcony” effect on the lower part of the balcony, a modified form of the “kneeling windows” of the Palazzo Medici.

The “kneeling windows” feature at Palazzo Medici

Reproduction of original glazed brown and gold tiles at the main front entrance.

Reception desk on the first floor.

Stairs leading to large event, waiting areas and train platform.

Chesapeake & Ohio railroad company logo.

This is the main event area adjacent to the train waiting area. Did you think you were in some palace? Gorgeous with an American style!

Marble topped cast iron table and chairs that surround other wood encased staircase to the first floor, offices and exit. You can see the openings to the waiting area on the right.

Detailing in the coffered ceiling and marble columns.

More detailing…

One of two smaller rooms on either side of large event room. Did I mention, the floors are the original marble and are throughout the building.

Same side room, nice reproduction of wood wainscot and window trim. In 1980's the building caught on fire.

A clubby feel with leather chairs.

Same side room shows wood trim, elevator and ladies powder room.

Working marble fireplace in opposite twin side room to event area.

Balcony in front just beyond the large windows.

Closer view of pompeian brick facade and tericotta embelishments.

Detail of original glass floor of the large front balcony.

Same balcony flooring becomes luminescent ceiling on first floor front entrance overhang

Doors to train waiting area.

Detail of the doors leading into the train waiting area. With the “gas lights” and dark wood, I almost expected to see Mr. Lincoln come walking through those doors! No quite the same time frame but close enough!

Other side of doors in the waiting and platform exit area.

Waiting area just on other side of doors, entrance to train platform is behind me. Iron gate is original.

Detailing of one of the doors near train platform exit to large event room.

Door on left to train platform.

“All Aboard!”

Looking thru door to left passage to platform for Amtrak.

Passage to the right to platform apparently not in use.

Looking from front left entrance, first floor offices.

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