HOLMBERG: A ghost in historic Jackson Ward?

Posted at 3:30 PM, Jul 12, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - In a city as old as Richmond, there are plenty of buildings filled with history. Some of those historic properties, though, have their fair share of mystery too.

“When I got the building it was dry, but it was falling apart,” Bryce Given said of his partially rehabbed former industrial building at 405 Brook Road in North Richmond.

He’s slowly making it into Lucy’s Gelato Cafe, but not without some seemingly otherworldly help.

Both Bryce and his girlfriend have seen an apparition, on two different occasions, coming up the stairs in the 100-year-old, historic Jackson Ward home.

Did something horrible happen in this building?

A property record and criss-cross directory search showed R.D. Harlow had his grain and tack business there for years in the early 1900s, when Brook Road was the main north and south drag through Richmond, well before Interstate 95 or even U.S. Route 1.

He was a member of the grain exchange, and apparently hosted the Harlow Cup award at the State Fair, according to old newspaper reports.

Given says, according to Jackson Ward lore, the owner may have asphyxiated himself when cars became popular and his horse business suffered.

The building was home to Capital Awning for a long time.  Then is came back, apparently, to the Harlow family, this time run by Walter L. Harlow Jr., whose home was listed on Stuart Avenue.

The business listings for 405 Brook Road seem to end in 1987, with Garrett Black Furniture Studios.

What became of the relatives of R.D. and Walter Harlow? Do they know what happened in the building, if anything? The trail winds over the state, and then disappears.

Bryce hopes someone sees this story and provides some answers to his ghostly mystery.

But he says he doesn't fear the building, or anything that may be lingering there.

“I have a good feeling about the apparition--or the spirit--that may be here,” he said, adding that neither he nor his girlfriend have even seen anything like that before, or since.

He wonders if it was sad because of the sorry state of the building.

“But now the bricks are fixed and everything is stable and solid again,” Bryce said while sitting upstairs, where he saw the apparition. “I may not see him again.

“If I don’t see him again,” he added, “I just figure that he’s happy.”