The intersection of Ninth and Main Streets has been the focal point of downtown Lynchburg for more than two centuries. When Lynchburg was laid out by surveyor Richard Stith in 1787 (one year after the town’s establishment), the junction of Second Street (now Main) and Water Street (now Ninth) was at the center of the 45-acre town. In June of 1787, 22 lots were sold at public auction. Charles Tenile (probably Terrell) acquired lot number five at the west corner of Second and Water Streets (site of the present-day Krise Building). 1
In the spring of 1793, Richard Venable reported that improvements at Lynchburg were “arising fast, three years ago only two or three small houses at the place, now there are numbers of small houses and about 20 very good houses—all things look new…” Writing to Thomas Jefferson about the establishment of a new postal route in the area, William Tatham noted that Lynchburg had 14 stores.2
By 1798, Major Samuel Scott (1754-1822), who lived at nearby “Locust Thicket” on what is now Old Forest Road, purchased lot number five and constructed three buildings on the property, including a large 32 by 40-foot, two-story, frame retail store directly on the corner of what is now Ninth and Main Streets. The store was operated by merchant Joseph Dakings (1760-1844), surviving partner of the mercantile firm of Shadrack Munnings & Co. of Baltimore.3
In 1810, Thomas Jefferson wrote that Lynchburg was “perhaps the most rising place in the U.S. It…receives all the produce of the Southwestern corner of Virginia…it ranks now next to Richmond in importance.”4 Four years later, Samuel Scott and William Galt re-insured the store on lot five, which they valued at $3,150.50. Born in Ayrshire, Scotland, William Galt (1755-1825) was a respected merchant in Richmond, and had commercial interests throughout Piedmont Virginia (including Galt’s Mill in Amherst County, which he constructed in 1813).6 Following Scott’s death in 1822 and Galt’s passing in 1825, the prime commercial property at what is now Ninth and Main was divided into two portions. The first twenty feet of frontage on Main Street (from the corner at Ninth) was under the control of William Galt’s adopted son, William Galt, Jr. (1801-1851), and nephew John Allan (1779-1834) (foster father of Edgar Allan Poe). Beverly R. Scott was in possession of a 22.5 foot wide lot just to the west.7
In 1827, merchant Matthew Quinn (1799-1875) purchased the corner lot, which he already occupied, from Galt and Allan. Two years later, he purchased the adjoining lot, giving him 42.5 feet of frontage on Main Street.8 By 1833, Quinn was operating a clothing store and grocery store on his property, but five years later, the clothing store was converted to a shoe store.9 In 1850, Quinn, then living in Philadelphia, sold the lot to Irish Confectioner Samuel A. Boyd (b. 1823), who established his “Confectionery and Ice Cream Saloon” at 827 Main Street. An 1887 advertisement boasted that the saloon featured soda water, candies, fruits, nuts, and toys, and that Boyd catered wedding parties in the “city and country.”10
In 1868, Samuel Boyd sold the “house and lot” immediately at the corner of Ninth and Main to his relative Hamilton Boyd (1815-1881), also a merchant from Ireland...11 By May of 1871, the 18th century store building occupied by Dakings, Galt, Quinn, and Boyd had been destroyed by fire, and Hamilton Boyd was constructing a new, three-story, hipped-roof, brick building that contained two storefronts on Main Street.12 Samuel A. Boyd's "ice cream saloon" occupied the westernmost storefront (827 Main), and banker and broker P.A. Krise occupied the storefront to the east, on the corner of Ninth and Main, since at least 1867. Above Krise’s bank was the law firm of Haythe & Sehorn.13
Philip Asa Krise was born in Louisa County, Virginia, in 1833. He attended college and then taught school in Upshur County, West Virginia, and moved to Lynchburg immediately following the Civil War. With only a few hundred dollars in working capital, he began trading gold, silver, and bank notes, and by about 1880, had transitioned into the general banking business. He chartered the Krise Banking Company in 1892 and served as Secretary, Treasurer, and director of the Bonsack Machine Company, which produced cigarette manufacturing machines.14
In 1901, Krise Banking Company purchased the building that it occupied (829 Main Street) from the Boyd Family for a considerable $29,400. A January 1904 edition of The Economist announced that the Krise Banking Company would become American National Bank with capital assets of $100,000. In early 1904, P.A. Krise purchased the corner lot from Krise Banking Corporation along with 827 Main Street (which housed Samuel Boyd’s confectionery) in February.15 With these purchases, Krise’s holdings at the corner of Ninth and Main included the ca. 1871 three-story brick building at 827-829 Main Street that contained the bank and confectionery along with a one-story frame building along Ninth Street that was home to plumber J.D. Seay and T.H. Scott, an African American barber.
In February of 1905, The Lynchburg News announced that Krise, who was in semi-retirement, had awarded a contract to the Lynchburg firm of C.W. Hancock & Son for the construction of the Krise Building, a seven-story edifice designed by the local architectural firm of Frye and Chesterman. Demolition of the existing building at 827-829 Main would begin a month later, and construction would commence as soon as weather permitted. American National Bank would temporarily move across Main Street to the Lynch House building.16
Interestingly, the building was built in two phases. The Lynchburg News article stated that C.W. Hancock & Son were presently “erecting the rear portion of the building.” For an unknown reason, Krise opted to bid the project out in two phases, constructing the rear five bays of the building first. In other words, when viewing the building from Ninth Street, the pedimented entry into the elevator lobby (203 Ninth Street) and everything to the left (uphill) was constructed first. Then, the four bays to the right (towards Main Street) of the pedimented entry were built.
One possible reason for this construction scheme was that there were complications with demolishing 827-829 Main Street, or with moving American National Bank to temporary quarters; however, it is hard to understand why the two-phase approach was a cost-effective or beneficial option. Charles Washington Hancock was born in Charlotte County, Virginia, in 1853, and became a partner in the firm of Hardy & Hancock, millwrights, in 1882. Six years later, he became a general contractor. His oldest son, A.C. Hancock, joined him in 1895, and the firm of C.W. Hancock & Son established an office in Lynchburg in 1897. Other sons joined the company in 1907 and 1912. Hancock’s first major projects included plants at Holcomb Rock, Virginia, and Kanawha Falls, West Virginia, for the Wilson Aluminum Company.17 Following construction of the Krise Building, the firm completed a new building for First National Bank at Tenth and Main Streets (the building houses BB&T Bank, but was dramatically remodeled in the 1970s).18
The architectural firm of Edward Graham Frye and Aubrey Chesterman was perhaps the most influential Lynchburg design firm of the early 20th century. During the first decade of the century, Frye and Chesterman designed several important buildings, including the Piedmont Club (1902), Academy of Music (1905), Jones Memorial Library (1907), and Lynchburg College (1909-10). In addition, it was one of three Virginia firms chosen to design the legislative wings on the Virginia Capitol in Richmond.19
The Krise Building was designed to be the tallest in Lynchburg at seven stories. While it was Lynchburg’s first “skyscraper,” the building’s design recipe had been well-established elsewhere. The Chicago School method of designing tall buildings based on the three primary parts of a classical column had been well-established by Louis Sullivan and others. The first floor of the building served as the base of the column, and was “devoted to stores, banks, or other establishments requiring a large area, ample spacing, ample light, and great freedom of access.”
The Krise Building’s first floor contained a bank and stores, as suggested by Sullivan, and was visually separated from the rest of the tower by arches, rusticated stonework, and a belt course between the first and second levels. Above the main floor was “an indefinite [in the case of the Krise Building, five] number of stories of offices piled tier upon tier…” These levels served as the shaft of the classical column, which was topped by a “capital” story. The Krise building’s seventh floor, like its first, was visually separated from the shaft of the “column” by the use of a belt course, terra-cotta cartouches between the windows, and a heavy cornice with balustrade above.20
Phase I of the seven-story brick building was originally planned to be constructed with wooden floors, stairs, roofing, and partition systems, which was the typical, traditional construction method of the day. However, as soon as the rear portion of the building was “dried-in” (placed under a roof), Krise determined that the wooden “innards” of the building were inconsistent with its masonry exterior, and ordered that all interior framing be removed. Steel beams, concrete “hollow tile” floors, iron stairs, and other fireproof elements were installed in its place.21
As construction progressed through 1905, P.A. Krise began to recruit tenants for the building. In October, Lynchburg’s Board of Aldermen agreed with the Common Council and voted to rent all 14 offices on the second floor of the Krise Building, which would consolidate city offices that were then “scattered over three or four squares [blocks] on Main and Church Streets.”22 Krise was likely pleased to have made a long-term lease (three years that could be extended to five) with Lynchburg’s municipal government. Through the winter of 1905-06, anticipation for the completion of the building was mounting. In January, Calvin Moss, agent for the Union Central Life Insurance Company, advertised in the Lynchburg News that they were “not quite ready yet at Krise Building, so see us at 1016 Main Street for a few days longer.” Later that month, the American National Life Insurance Company reported that it was “placing its stock” and would organize in February “as soon as it can get its suite of rooms in the new Krise building.”24
An article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch in mid-January mentioned that the building, with its “seven stories pointing heavenward,” would be ready for occupancy that month.25 It is unclear exactly when in the spring of 1906 the Krise Building officially opened for business, but it was likely delayed, as the American National Life Insurance Company (which was affiliated with American National Bank) pushed its organizational meeting at the Krise Building to early March.26 A later newspaper article explained that American National Bank had intended to open on November 1, 1905, but due to the “great scarcity of high grade materials such as was required in the finishing of the main banking room," it "resulted in a postponement of the opening date from time to time.”
Lynchburg real estate tax records for 1906 clearly indicated the improvements, as the building on the lot was assessed at $105,000, a substantial increase over the previous year’s valuation of $24,500 (a mid-1905 reassessment reflected the completion of Phase I, which was valued at $50,000).27 On the evening of Saturday, March 31, 1906, American National Bank hosted a public reception to celebrate its grand opening in its new location on the first floor of the Krise Building. Hundreds of people were in attendance, and entertainment was provided by the Academy of Music Orchestra. Following the reception, a private dinner was held at the Hotel Carroll for the board of directors, officers, and employees of the bank. The décor of the main banking room was described as being executed in green, ivory, and gold, and the walls were wainscoted in highly-polished Italian marble “of the English vein variety.”28
As if there was a lack of fanfare over the building, poet Duvall Porter submitted an ode to the Krise Building to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which was published in late April 1906. Porter wrote that the building was:
…A thing of beauty, strength and grace,
The 1907 Sanborn Insurance Company map of Lynchburg confirms that the Krise Building was built according to the early 20th century principles of “fire proof construction.” The building’s addresses of 827-829 Main Street were occupied by the bank, and 205, 207 and 209 Ninth Street were designated as storefronts. the address at 203 Ninth Street served as the main entrance lobby for the offices in the six stories above. The 1907 City Directory included an advertisement for American National Bank that boasted that it was “fire-proof and burglar-proof throughout.” The Claiborne Drug Company was located at 205 Ninth Street, while the other two storefronts along Ninth contained offices, including those of P.A. Krise and the Bonsack Machine Company.
The upper floors of the building were teeming with commercial and government tenants. As previously announced, the second floor served as what could be described as “city hall,” with facilities for the Common Council, City Engineer, Water Works, Commissioner of the Revenue, Treasurer, and Collector. Tenants on upper floors included a U.S. Army Recruiting Office, builders C.W. Hancock & Son, the U.S. Bureau of Animal Industry, the Durham & South Carolina Railroad Company, and several law firms and insurance agencies. Two offices on the seventh floor were occupied by the Coffee Room of the Van Dyke League, a civic organization.30
The Krise Building’s position as Lynchburg’s tallest building was short-lived. In 1913, the eleven-story Peoples National Bank building at 801 Main Street was erected. Apparently feeling pressure to keep his building in full occupancy, P.A. Krise placed a full-page ad in the 1913 City Directory that boasted the building’s amenities, including “Steam heat, Automatic Sweeper, Mail Chutes, Electrical Hydraulic Elevators, and every convenience of the modern office building.” He then added that it was the “Cleanest and most sanitary building” in southwest Virginia.31 By 1913, the banking space on the building’s first floor was occupied by the United Bank & Trust Company. The United Bank & Trust Company was liquidated in 1921, and the Krise Building’s former banking space fronting Main Street was converted to retail.
In the meantime, one of Lynchburg’s wealthiest citizens, Philip A. Krise, died in February of 1917 at the age of 83, and left his entire estate to his second wife, 40-year-old Minnie Evelyn Johnson. By 1920, Minnie had married Floyd L. Knight, a stock broker from New Jersey.32 In 1925, 827 Main was vacant, and the United Hat Cleaning and Shoe Shine Company occupied 829 Main. The three storefronts along Ninth contained offices, and a fourth storefront, numbered 201 Ninth Street, contained the United Barber Shop, carved out of the former banking space towards the front of the building. The upper floors hosted more than sixty tenants, including attorneys, insurance agencies, lumber companies, steel companies, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.33 Five years later, in 1930, the building’s Main Street stores were occupied by the Virginia Dare Shops (women’s clothing), United Cigar Stores, and Whelan Drug Company (this became Walgreen’s Drug Company by 1935).34
In 1945, Minnie E. Knight and Floyd L. Knight sold the Krise Building to the investment firm of Scott, Horner, & Mason, Inc. In 1946, Bowen Jewelry Company, founded by Charles W. Bowen in 1933, moved from its location at 813 Main Street to the Krise Building, taking the address of 829 Main Street. Next to Bowen, at 827 Main Street, was the Lynchburg location of National Optical Stores and Dr. Walter Richardson.35
In 1949, Scott, Horner, & Mason sold the Krise Building to Shormas Realty, Inc., which was likely an allied business, as it later shared space with Scott, Horner, & Mason on the second floor of the Krise Building. Edwin B. Horner, President of Scott, Horner & Mason, founded the First Colony Life Insurance Company in 1955 and the name of the Krise Building was changed to the First Colony Life Building. The company was initially funded with capital assets of $2.2 million and Horner expressed his desire to see the company eventually expand into several states and grow to 700 employees.36 The next year, in 1956, Bowen Jewelry Company created excitement by hosting the famous Hope Diamond for a one-day exhibition. Hundreds of area residents lined up to view (and even touch) the 45.52-carat blue diamond, which is now housed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.37
Professional Building of Lynchburg, Inc., purchased the building in December of 1960, and immediately began a renovation of the facility. A newspaper article written in the summer of 1961 described the scope of the renovations, which included steam cleaning the exterior of the building, updating the rest rooms, and painting. In true 1960s style, the walls of the corridors were “repapered in cocoa brown and light modern patterns.” Camilla Brightwell (1881-1968) was interviewed as perhaps the oldest surviving employee who was still working in the building. She began working in the building in 1906 for the law firm of Sackett & Sackett (later Williams, Robertson & Sackett) and was still working for the firm in 1961. Pleased that the new owners of the building were restoring the edifice’s original name, she stated that it should “remain a monument to Mr. Krise.”38
By 1968, First Colony occupied offices on the second and third floors of the Krise Building, and had grown to 70 employees and $16 million in assets. Two years later, the business had outgrown the Krise Building and purchased the former Guggenheimer’s Department Store in the 700 block of Main Street. First Colony eventually expanded its facilities and now occupies the entire northeast side of the 700 block of Main Street. At its 40th anniversary in 1995, the company boasted over 1,000 employees and $10 billion in assets. The next year, the company was purchased by GE Capital, and had more than 1,500 employees by 1999. In 2007, First Colony Life merged with Genworth Life and Annuity Insurance Company, a Genworth Financial company.39
By 1975, Bowen Jewelry Company expanded into the neighboring store space at 827 Main Street, creating the larger retail space that exists today. The business remains as one of the longest-running occupants of the Krise Building, having conducted business at the prominent location at the corner of Ninth and Main Streets for more than 65 years.
2 Ibid. page 15
3 Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia Policy #309, 1798, Library of Virginia Reel 2, Volume 13. Lynchburg Weekly Gazette, 20 July 1799. Federal Gazette (Baltimore), 16 May 1803. Campbell County Personal Property Tax Records, 1798, List B. Burial Listings for Presbyterian Church of Basking Ridge, New Jersey (burial site of Joseph Dakings and Shadrack Munnings) accessed online at http://brpc.org/resources/historic-records/burial-listings/.
4 Chambers, 38.
5 Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia Policy #1239 & #1240, 1814, Library of Virginia Reel 8, Volume 68.
6 “Obituary of William Galt”, Enquirer (Richmond), 1 April 1825.
7 Herndon, G. Melvin. “From Scottish Orphan to Virginia Planter: William Galt, Jr., 1801-1851” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Volume 87, Number 3, July 1979.
8 Deed Book I, page 49, City of Lynchburg Clerk of Court. Deed Book K, page 15, City of Lynchburg Clerk of Court. “Obituary of Matthew Quinn”. Philadelphia Enquirer, 30 April 1875.
9 Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia Policy #7783, 1831, Library of Virginia Reel 13, Volume 92. Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia Policy #8267, 1833, Library of Virginia Reel 14, Volume 94. Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia Policy #10922, 1838, Library of Virginia Reel 16, Volume 103.
10 Deed Book S, page 268, City of Lynchburg Clerk of Court. Pollock, Edward, ed. “Sketchbook of Lynchburg: Its People and Its Trade.” Lynchburg, Virginia: The Virginian Job Printing House, 1887. Page 128.
11 Deed Book Y, page 234, City of Lynchburg Clerk of Court. Obituary of Hamilton Boyd (http://ied.dippam.ac.uk/records/28989)
12 Deed Book Z, page 574, City of Lynchburg Clerk of Court.
13 1881-82 Lynchburg City Directory. 1885 Sanborn Insurance Company Map. Pollock, page 70.
14 Tyler, Lyon G., ed. “Men of Mark in Virginia, Volume II.” Washington, D.C.: Men of Mark Publishing Company, 1907. Pp 238-39.
15 Deed Book 62, page 31. Deed Book 68, page 415. Deed Book 68, page 543. City of Lynchburg Clerk of Court.
16 The News, Lynchburg, Virginia. 19 February 1905, page 6, column 2
17 Philip Alexander Bruce. History of Virginia, Vol. 5, (American Historical Society, 1924), Pp 103-104.
18 Chambers, 381.
19 Ibid, 357-358
20 Sullivan, Louis H., Robert C. Twombly, ed. “Louis Sullivan: The Public Papers.” Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1988. Pp 103-105. Chambers, 378.
21 Bertollet, Edwin F. “An Awakening and a Transformation,” Fireproof Magazine, volume 7, Chicago, Illinois: Fireproof Publishing Company, November 1905. pages 181-183
22 The Times Dispatch, Richmond, Virginia, 11 October 1905, page 3, column 6
23 The News, Lynchburg, Virginia, 30 January 1906.
24 The Times Dispatch, Richmond, Virginia, 13 January 1906, page 5, column 3
25 The Times Dispatch, Richmond, Virginia, 1 January 1906, page 6, column 2
26 The News, Lynchburg, Virginia, 28 February 1906.
27 1905, 1906 City of Lynchburg Land Books, City of Lynchburg Clerk of Court
28 The News, Lynchburg, Virginia, 1 April 1906, pages 1 and 7.
29 The Times Dispatch, Richmond, Virginia, 29 April 1906, page 3, column 3
30 1907 Sanborn Insurance Company Map. 1907 Lynchburg City Directory.
31 1913 Lynchburg City Directory.
32 1913 Lynchburg City Directory. Will Book K, page 217, City of Lynchburg Clerk of Court. 1920 United States Census, Population Schedule.
33 1925 Lynchburg City Directory.
34 1930, 1935 Lynchburg City Directory.
35 Deed Book 239, page 247. 1945 Lynchburg City Directory. Bowen Jewelry Company web site at http://www.bowenjewelry.com/about/history/.
36 Deed Book 263, page 350 City of Lynchburg Clerk of Court.
37 Bowen Jewelry Company web site at http://www.bowenjewelry.com/about/history/hope-diamond/
38 Lynchburg News, 16 July 1961, Section B-6.
Information provided by Mary Jane Dolan on 10 January 2012.