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July 2, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Slate Industry in Old Buckingham: Part III

Courtesy Richmond Times-Dispatch

Click here to catch up: Slate Industry in Old Buckingham: Part I

Writing about Buckingham slate, reporter Frank Woodson branched out to discuss two local mills.

There are two old mills near here [Arvonia], one known as the Virginia Mills and the other as the Trenton Mill. They were covered with Buckingham slate taken from a quarry within a stone’s throw of where I now sit. It is known that Virginia Mill[s] was built and roofed with this slate one hundred and twenty-five years ago, and it is known that the Trenton Mill is a hundred years old. The roofing was crudely done, but it was well done, and to-day it is as perfect as it was the day it was put on the buildings, and no man who has ever operated the Mills has ever been known to complain of leaking roofs.

Woodson further observed that the City Gas House in Norfolk, Virginia was covered with Buckingham County-quarried slate. More than sixty years old, even leaking gases had not compromised it. When the building had to be rebuilt to better contain noxious fumes, the roof was carefully removed, found to be in perfect condition, and the new building was reroofed with the same material. After another twenty years, the gas house was rebuilt again, the roof removed, and used for a third time. Now that’s staying power!

Another well-known building topped with Buckingham County slate was the Richmond Theatre on Broad Street. Several years before 1913, the old theater was pulled down and the contractor, who found the roof in perfect condition, saved the slate and used it to roof smaller houses in the northern part of the city.

Coming next: Slate Industry in Old Buckingham: Part IV

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