Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Man Who Hosed Ol' Dixie Down

From the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch:

A plug for Richmond's first baths

Marker recalls the man who got Richmond clean behind the ears


Oct 11, 2005


In 1909, John Patteson Branch built the city's first municipal bathhouse at 1801 E. Broad St. Branch, a civic-minded member of the banking establishment, donated the building at the peak of an obsession among Americans with personal hygiene and public health.


Nearly a century after it opened, Branch's great-great-grandson unveiled a state Historical Highway Marker at the Branch Public Baths. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources posts the metal signs with black lettering on roadsides around the state to acknowledge notable bits of history.


Attendees were treated to a bar of soap and an embroidered towel and were serenaded by an a cappella quartet, The Focus Group, in honor of a group of harmonizers who frequented the baths.


The idea to publicly acknowledge his great-great-grandfather came after intensive family research that Dotts called a "voyage of discovery."


[Read the whole story]

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