Washington’s Old Headquarters

Washington's-Old-HQ-detThis is another photo John Capewell shot during a trip to Richmond Virginia. The sign by the door reads WASHINGTON’S OLD HEADQUARTERS although Washington never actually maintained a headquarters there. In chasing down information on the place, I discovered it has a very curious history.

It’s also known as the Old Stone House and was built by Jacob Ege who immigrated from Germany to Philadelphia and came to Richmond (then known as the James River Settlements and Col. Wm. Byrd’s land grant) in the company of the family of his fiance. The house was built around 1740 as a Home for the Bride and is cited as the oldest original building in Richmond. As time went on the Old Stone House accrued a number of historically significant legends such as the place being Washington’s headquarters or Patrick Henry’s office most of which are untrue. The house remained in possession of the Ege family until 1911.

Since 1922, the place has been an Edgar Allan Poe museum although Poe didn’t live there either. He did work his first job there when it housed the Southern Literary Messenger.

Washington's-Old-HQObviously, Capewell shot the place well before it became the Poe Museum and was still being celebrated although falsely as General Washington’s HQ.

About The Capewell Glass Negative Collection

The Capewell Glass Negative Collection is a series of about 200 5-inch by 7-inch glass negatives shot early in the 20th Century by John Batt Capewell (1878-1951) of Westville, New Jersey. John passed the negatives down to his son Henry who left them in his wife’s possession upon his passing. Henry’s widow didn’t know what to do with them and didn’t particularly want them so she offered them to my Dad who couldn’t turn down anything. Ultimately I wound up with them and thought I would one day have photographic prints struck from them. That didn’t happen, but I came up with the digital workaround of placing the negatives on a lightbox and rephotographing them with a digital camera. The “processing” was then done on a computer with image editing software. They came out better than I thought they would so I thought I would show them off to the world on this site. Many of these pictures have not been seen in a century, and I’m proud to be presenting them today.

At first, I did not know who the people were in the photographs. I have a box of ephemera that accompanied the negatives and snagged a few clues from that as far as the Capewell name. I did some research on the internet and had a few false starts and wrong turns, but the readers of these posts have provided a remarkable amount of research and detail. I’m amazed at what people have turned up sifting through public records and such!

Last Week: The Folks Out Back

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