Reed Square Benefactor Biographies

The Reed Square Foundation is memorializing four Church Hill benefactors in Reed Square:

Mary Ross Scott Reed
Elisabeth Scott Bocock
S. Douglas Fleet
Louise F. Catterall

Below are capsule biographies of the benefactors.

Mary Ross Scott Reed

In addition to creating Reed Square, Mrs. Reed played a key role in several important events in the St. John’s Church Old and Historic District. Probably the most important event she influenced was the relocation of radio station WRVA to the Taylor Hill overlook at the western end of Grace Street in 1968. She and her husband William T. Reed were friendly with the owner of WRVA. When the station’s relocation plans became known, the Reeds persuaded the owner to locate on Church Hill, which at that time was considered a risky place for a business. At the same time, Mrs. Reed persuaded internationally known architect Philip Johnson to take on the project, his first commission in the South. The relocation of WRVA to Church Hill and the cachet of Mr. Johnson’s name sent a message to the rest of the City that the renovation of Church Hill was succeeding and would continue to do so.

Mrs. Reed also renovated several houses in Church Hill and sold them interest-free to home buyers committed to the Historic District. The most significant house she renovated was the Turner/Sinton House at 2520 East Franklin. The restored interior of this home remains a Church Hill treasure. The Turner/Sinton house at one time sat on a large piece of property that had been broken up and sold. Immediately behind the house along North 26th Street were four of these parcels, 108-114. These 20 foot x 60 foot parcels had been sold for non residential use and contained historically insignificant sheds and garages. Mrs. Reed bought the parcels, had the structures razed, and consolidated them into one address, 110 North 26th Street. A lover of trees and gardens, she then retained a landscape architect to design a fenced garden. Thus Reed Square was born. Mrs. Reed encouraged the neighborhood to use the park as a gathering space for young mothers and their children, and it served that purpose for a while. In time the landscaping fell into disrepair and Mrs. Reed had it landscaped again. The property was subsequently transferred to the Historic Richmond Foundation with the understanding that HRF would maintain it.

For these reasons, and other activities too numerous to mention here, the Reed Square Foundation thanks Mrs. Reed and her family for her key role in the success of the St. John’s Church Old and Historic District.

Elisabeth Scott Bocock

The St. John’s Church Old and Historic District, as we know it today, would not exist without the energy, dedication and resources of many people working individually and in groups over a period of nearly 50 years. But if a single individual can be singled out, that individual is Elisabeth Scott Bocock.

Working with other preservationists, Mrs. Bocock played a key role in the creation of the St. John’s Church Old and Historic District in 1956, Richmond’s first historic district. This was no easy task when historic districts were unknown to the city and looked on with suspicion by factions unfamiliar with their social and economic benefits. That same year, when it became clear that Richmond lacked an organization with the latitude and resources to acquire and renovate houses and buildings in the new historic district, Mrs. Bocock and a few dedicated friends founded the Historic Richmond Foundation and generously helped put it on a sound financial footing for the work ahead.

When historic homes in other sections of the city were doomed to destruction and space was available in the Historic District, Mrs. Bocock saved them by moving them to Church Hill. The most striking examples are the Pulliam House (2701 East Frankin) moved from the path of the downtown expressway, and 2608-2610 East Franklin and 2515 East Grace both moved from the site of the downtown library.

In 1963, Mrs. Bocock perceived the need for a business and social dining club in Church Hill. She helped found the 2300 Club, and used her resources to help keep it going in its early years. Today, the 2300 Club continues to serve residents and business interests in an attractive and genteel setting.

Mrs. Bocock also recognized the need for an artistic oriented enterprise in the area and she founded the Hand Workshop in the Whitlock House in the 300 block of North 24th Street. Though long since moved to larger quarters, the Hand Workshop continues to prosper and recently signed papers to buy its building on West Main Street.

Mrs. Bocock used her drive, personality, and resources over a period of many years toward the creation, promotion, and enhancement of Church Hill. For this and much more, the Reed Square Foundation thanks Mrs. Bocock and her family.

S. Douglas Fleet

Mr. S. Douglas Fleet’s direct involvement with the Historic Richmond Foundation and its work on Church Hill began in the 1960s. He was elected HRF President in 1970. Mr. Fleet’s interest in historic preservation probably stemmed from the 1930s when his mother and sister were residents of the Adam Craig House.

If not for Doug Fleet, numerous Church Hill renovators would not have found financing for their projects. The creation of the St. John’s Church Old and Historic District in 1957 did not change banks’ perception of renovation in Church Hill as a risky venture. To get renovation capital flowing, Doug Fleet established the “Church Hill Corporation” with a large endowment to be lent at low interest rates for the renovation of houses on Church Hill. This singular act allowed many people to move to Church Hill who otherwise would have gone elsewhere.

Among the houses Mr. Fleet renovated are the Shue/Fleet House, 2605 E. Franklin St., the Yarbrough House (2215 E. Broad St.), and the four contiguous buildings at 2220 E. Grace. These four he had remodeled as the location of the 2300 Club when it moved from 2300 E. Broad Street. Mr. Fleet worked closely with Mrs. Bocock on several projects. They collaborated to move the houses now located at 2608 and 2610 E. Franklin St. from the site of the downtown library.

Mr. Fleet’s interest in the neighborhood went deeper than historic preservation. He was a gentleman to all and often gave money to neighborhood building efforts, often anonymously. Only recently it became known that on condition of anonymity he donated the initial funding for the Church Hill Crime Watch. The idea of a crime watch was resisted by early local leaders because of concern it would discourage future residents. Mr. Fleet saw the safety of current residents as the more important concern. The success of the Church Hill Crime Watch and its founder, Shelby Long, were later nationally recognized by Newsweek magazine.

In summary, Mr. Fleet was directly or indirectly responsible for the renovation of innumerable buildings in the Historic District, and he demonstrated a sincere concern for the neighborhood itself. The Reed Square Foundation thanks Mr. Fleet and his family for his support of the neighborhood and for the gentlemanly impression he had on all who met him.

Thanks also to Ms. Jane Dunn for her recollections of 30 years of working for Mr. Fleet.

Louise F. Catterall

Louise F. Catteral, Mrs. Ralph T. Catterall, was a founding member of the Historic Richmond Foundation. As its first secretary, she kept records, wrote pamphlets and conducted research on historic preservation. Her input played a valuable role in Richmond City Council’s passage in 1956 of the ordinance creating the St. John’s Church Old and Historic District, and her subsequent expenditure of time and effort helped assure its success.

As a member of the original Board of Directors, Mrs. Catterall lent balance to the opinions and projects of other HRF board members. She took a special interest in the 2300 Club and worked tirelessly to keep its books in order and the facility functioning smoothly. Mrs. Catterall was meticulous and exacting in her preferences, and all who knew her admired and respected her.

In the early years, Mrs. Catterall hosted numerous teas and dinners in her home to introduce others to historic preservation and solicit their support. She preferred to work behind the scenes and did so continuously for many years in valuable ways.

Although she did not finance the renovation or restoration of buildings, her qualities of reliability and selfless volunteerism contributed greatly to further development of the Church Hill area. In the early 1980’s she wrote the 25 year history of HRF.

The Reed Square Foundation thanks Mrs. Catterall and her family for her dedication to the neighborhood and for her years of devoted work.