The Blue Raccoon

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Gutenberg's Upper Room & Barnes & Noble To Come

Pratt's Castle, Gamble's Hill in Richmond, Va., ca. 1854-1958.
This is the site of the present NewMarket/Ethyl Corporation

Monday night I regaled a group of history folks about True Richmond Stories in the upper room at Café Gutenberg. This is one of the Richmond's great commercial rooms; wooden and book-lined with mis-matched tables and chairs and views of Main Street, the market and train station. All of Richmond's history is there, or nearby, from 1607 onward, just in the market itself.

I was treated to wine and dined afterward, signed books and talked to a young man about those persistent rumors about Richmond 's "Undreground" that somehow the city has this vast series of sewer tunnels like Jean Valjean got chased through, or Harry Lime in The Third Man. I think these rumors get started because of the series of steam tunnels linking the State Capitol to MCV's campus. These notions are perhaps fueled by wine cellars and coal rooms in Church Hill, the railroad tunnel collapse, the spring beneath the Byrd Theatre, and perhaps enduring memory of Pratt's Castle. That place had a coal storage chamber, wine cellar, and hidden passages and secret rooms. In this plaque-crazy town, there's no mention near the site of what was one of the most photographed (and strangest) building in Richmond.

Thursday I'll be reading at Barnes & Noble, Libbie Place, and that'll be my first presentation in a non-indie store. I'm curious as to how it'll go.

Meantime, I hear how Verizon surrendered the right to privacy to the government because they asked. And you still can't get continuous cell service in Goochland County.

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