When you aren’t guiding a Richmond Rides tour, what are you doing?
I'm a classically trained singer in the bel canto tradition. When I lived in Portland I sang opera, oratorios, operettas and musical theatre, and had a lot of church jobs singing solos and bolstering tenor sections in choirs. Here in Richmond I have a church job at First Presbyterian, leading the tenor section, and singing solos when they want to program one into a service. Also I can be found Re-enacting the Second Virginia Convention, and of course finding more interesting things to talk about on the bike tours!
Favorite historical person from RVA and why?
Elizabeth Van Lew, a gutsy woman of Richmond society who spied for the North from the very heart of the Confederacy. (Find out more about her on our Church Hill Signature Tour)
Must see stop for someone visiting RVA and why?
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, an astonishingly excellent art museum for a city of this size, at an astonishing admission price of free.
Favorite food spot in RVA ?
Perly's Jewish deli is my second favorite. If I disclosed my most favorite I might never be able to get in again. There's this great tradition of Jewish delis in NYC, Cleveland, Chicago- the rust belt basically. Perly's is close to the real deal. If you haven't been there you absolutely should go-- ideally several times, because one sitting won't allow you to sample the tapestry of traditional American-Jewish food traditions. And FYI, I'm Jewish by genetics and generationally trained behaviors, not by religion or culture.
Thing you would most like to see RVA change in the next 50 years?
I would like to see Richmond government work toward openness and inclusiveness and a genuine desire to improve Richmond as a whole.
I would like to see Richmond seize the opportunity, and be a leader in this country;
Favorite part of being a RR guide?
Richmond is the epitome of what it means to be an American. The best of the best and the worst of the worst: it's all here; from the earliest colonial history to the present.
Favorite places to explore in RVA?
The incredible number of historic sites that are open for tours. So few people know about them much less take the time to explore. Some of my favorites are:
The Maggie Walker House is an incredible opportunity to experience the powerful strength of this woman who wasn't cowed by an oppressive culture. It's a great entre to experience how the strength of Black culture allowed so many to survive and to live lives of worth and dignity in a deeply oppressive society.
Lumpkin’s Slave Jail is a remarkable opportunity to experience the opposite: the extreme cruelty and inhumanity visited on enslaved people; and the way that the predominant culture literally and metaphorically covered over all of it almost into obscurity.
The Slave Trail is a powerful way to experience a tiny taste of an enslaved human's existence; to walk in their footsteps; to reflect on the hidden, dark secrets that are buried in the US Constitution and in the politics of today.
There are so many other historically important locations that a tiny, tiny fraction of people ever take advantage of: the State Capitol, the Executive Mansion, John Marshall House. All are open for tours, and most people don't know it or take advantage of it.