The Colonial Theatre Tea Garden

The beauty spot of downtown Richmond was, in 1921, the Tea Garden of the brand-new Colonial Theatre. Herein, we recreate the essence of elegance, joy and hauteur that was once found in Virginia's first real picture palace. Bathtub gin is available at the top of the grand ramps.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

I find myself once again in my favorite city--in the sacred climes of Richmond-on-the-James. The very air in this city smells better than it does elsewhere. I blog unto thee now from the dining room of friends A-squared. It's one of those pretty houses built in 1926 that looks a little bit Merrie England and a little bit Valencia Theatre. If they croak, I hope that they leave me the house because I can just see myself living in this joint and having endless cocktail parties. I've already decided where I'd put the VivaTonal Grafonola (which I brought up from Richmond in the first place, so it would really only be going home).

The trip down was rather uneventful, by Amtrak standards. As you all probably know by now, I loathe a long distance drive. There is a reason that God gave us railroads. I don't even really like driving at all; I like big Buicks and LaSalles, but I like to be driven rather than doing the driving myself. (Naturlich, I think very lowly of Caddies and Packards--they are too showy, and nice people do not make a visible point of their bank accounts.)

Good-night for now. I am basking in the light of a beautiful Richmond moon, good whiskey, good smokes and good friends!

I was mildly appalled by the train itself. I have lived through a few eras of Amtrak, and I have vague memories of a time when the mighty Southern Railroad still ran independent passenger service with its fashionable "Crescent." Well do I remember the funky Amtrak cars of the late 60s and early 70s--a favored color combination was turquoise and purple. Most of my travel has involved the mid-70s "earthtone" cars. Amtrak has finally started to rid itself of them, though, and now has modern coaches with beige and blue livery. They are no fun whatsoever and simply look cheap.

What does NOT look cheap is the Main Street Station in Richmond, which now looks arguably better than it did the day it opened in 1901. It is the fitting entry for its gracious city. Tonight marked the first time that I was able to alight there. How lovely--to step off of a train and see that towering station, the gigantic clock tower, the lights of my beautiful city behind it!

For years I fantasized--what might it be, to take a train into the old Station? It closed in 1974, when downtown Richmond started to die. For years I hoped that it would reopen and for years I hoped that I could be on the first train when it reopened.