VCU Rice Center

Close-up of grasshopper

20th century

Significant alterations were made to the landscape of the Rice Center during the 20th century, most notably the damming of Kimages Creek to create Lake Charles and the construction of several buildings. In 1928 King Fulton purchased the western part of the property from the Irby family. Fulton’s intention was to create a hunting and fishing club. At that time, the creek was dammed to form the 70-acre lake.

Due largely to the Depression, the club failed quickly and the property was sold to the family of Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell. In 1935 the land was transferred to the YMCA for use as a summer camp to be named Camp Richmond.

Camp Richmond – Camp Weyanoke

Camp Richmond cabinThe camp began operation in the 1940s, housing young campers in tents while staff counselors bunked in the hunting lodge, which also doubled as the camp dining hall. In the 1950s, the dam and lodge were renovated, while a bathhouse and several cabins also were built. With these additions, Camp Richmond served up to 200 campers each summer.

Photo of weathered signThis construction on the property led to the unearthing of prehistoric archaeological remains. With this discovery came a new name — Camp Richmond was now called Camp Weyanoke. In 1977, operating costs forced the YMCA to sell the property.

 

Campers autographed paddle.


This 48-star flag flew at Camp Weyanoke until 1959. The flag was donated to the Rice Center by Phil Pollack (here with his son Matthew) and Stanley Krippner.


Camp Weyanoke dining hall.

The Rice Center

Ambassador Walter Rice purchased the YMCA property in 1977 and then added another 100 acres two years later with a purchase of land from Berkeley Plantation. In 2000, Mrs. Inger Rice generously donated the land to VCU for its present use as an environmental research and education center. 

The future

While this rich and fascinating history helps us to understand our past, we cannot afford to overlook the significance of the future. Today, the Rice Center makes history again — this time as a unique location for research and education.