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The House That Meat-Juice Built

Published on April 3, 2015 by
Mmm... meat-juice.

Mmm… meat-juice.

There’s nothing in this world like a bona-fide pulverized meat-juice!  What’d I say?  Meat-juice!  What’s it called?  Meat-juice!  That’s right!  Meat-juice!

Apologies to the Simpsons aside, have you ever wondered what 4 pounds of beef pulverized, pressed, and heated at low temperatures down to a 4 ounce bottle of liquid would taste like?  If you were alive between 1871 and 1957 and living in RVA (Richmond as they called it) you could have easily found out!

So much meat-juice!

So much meat-juice!

Valentine’s Meat-Juice was the brain child of Richmond resident Mann S. Valentine II in a successful effort to restore his wife to good health.  The magical elixir, which promised to restore vigor and strength, quickly made the Valentine family quite wealthy.  The elixir was even consumed by President Garfield in 1881 after surviving an assassination attempt.  When combined with milk, brandy, salt, and sterilized water it also made an excellent enema!  Exciting!

The larger point here is that Valentine’s Meat-Juice afforded the Mann and his family (he had 10 kids!) with enough income to acquire a huge collection of archaeological treasures and art and to put them on display in the 1812 John Wickham House.  This museum, now known as The Valentine, is still in operation today and houses both the extensive collection from Valentine’s time in the beautifully restored house and a collection of all things Richmond in the much newer wing.  Here are some of my favorite highlights:

Staring at the stairs.

Staring at the stairs.

Take the tour of the John Wickham house while you are there.  John Wickham was a noted lawyer who defended Vice President Aaron Burr during his trial for treason and lived in the house with his wife and 19 children!  The house was designed by the same architect (Alexander Parris) who designed the Governor’s Executive Mansion and a whole host of other buildings.  The John Wickham House cost more because of the insanely elaborate work and rounded everything.  The ellipse was the jump off point and was continued throughout the house, especially in the central spiral staircase.

You can't lever!  Why, cantilever?

You can’t lever! Why, cantilever?

Edward sculpted "Recumbent Statue" that is in the Lee Chapel at Washington and Lee  University

Edward sculpted “Recumbent Statue” that is in the Lee Chapel at Washington and Lee University

After the tour head out back and check out the sculpture studio of Mann’s brother, Edward Virginius.  I especially like the audio of letters between him and his brother.  “Please send me my clay and this giant laundry list of tools so I can model someone!”  “Here’s your rubbish, now do something that would actually make some money you hippie.”

Valentine-3353

Valentine-3352

Valentine-3345

Then head back inside to see just how Richmond stuff can get.

Chief Smokum.  How politically incorrect.

Chief Smokum. How politically incorrect.

Remember when the Altria Theater was the Landmark was The Mosque?

Remember when the Altria Theater was the Landmark was The Mosque?

Meet under the clock at Miller & Rhoads!

Meet under the clock at Miller & Rhoads!

Here's an alternate version of the Lee Monument that could have adorned Monument Avenue.  Personally, I prefer it!

Here’s an alternate version of the Lee Monument that could have adorned Monument Avenue. Personally, I prefer it!

Richmond's Seal before it got clubbed and became the weird little gold logo we see now.  (It's still our seal, but I'd never seen it before.)  Such is the way to the stars.

Richmond’s Seal before it got clubbed and became the weird little gold logo we see now. (It’s still our seal, but I’d never seen it before.) Such is the way to the stars.

Valentine-3339

Check out their website at http://thevalentine.org/ for hours and admissions.  Bonus:  They have an extensive online collection that is fun to browse too!

 
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