A Fledgling Firm – 1894

Pollard & Bagby, Inc. was formed in 1894, a significant year in the history of Richmond. The full effects of the “Money Panic” of the previous year, when local banks refused to cash checks for more than $50.00, were seen in the annual indices of the city.

The value of manufactured items fell to $31,684.050, a drop of $5,000,000, and more than 3,000 persons joined the ranks of the unemployed. The jobbing trade reported a $3,000,000 decrease, and bank clearings were down $1,500,000.

But while 1894 was not the most favorable time for launching a new business, the city was nevertheless moving ahead.

In February, a landmark in municipal history occurred when the City Hall was completed. Richmond had been without one for 23 years when the imposing new structure was finished at a cost of $1,440,000. City offices, which had been located in various commercial buildings, were now consolidated under one roof.

And in 1894, the first license granted for a woman to practice law in Virginia was given to Mrs. Belva A. Lockwood by Judge Wellford of the Circuit Court of Henrico County.

But good times or bad, John Bagby and Henry R. Pollard, Jr. had made their decision, and a fledgling firm made its first appearance on the city’s commercial scene.

The two partners began their business in a modest office located at 5-7 North 11th Street. After several years, James J. Pollard became a partner and in 1905 the firm moved to large quarters at 1102 East Main Street.

In 1916, the partnership was incorporated with Henry R. Pollard, Jr. as President, John Bagby and James J. Pollard, Vice Presidents, F.C.I. Tyndale, Secretary, and J. H. Mauck, Treasurer.

Four years later, the business moved to 1009 East Main Street, where it operated until 1975, whereupon it moved to 2 South Fifth Street where it is today, one of Richmond’s oldest firms still operated by the family of its founder.

Lively Firm – Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1906

Pollard & Bagby, a Twelve-Year-Old Firm of Hustling Handlers of City, Suburban and Country Farm Property

The firm of Pollard & Bagby is not one of the “old-timers,” in the matter of age. It was established in the year 1894, is composed of young men, and in the twelve years of it existence it has won a position in the very front rank of real estate dealers. Indeed, it is doubtful if there is a firm in the city that does a larger business. Their commodious new office, No. 1102 East Main Street, is one of the largest and best fitted up “realty shops” in the city, or in the state. Pollard & Bagby deal in all manner of city and suburban property and do a large rental business, having as extensive a rental account as any firm in Richmond. They also have a special farm department in which they buy and sell farms in the counties adjacent to Richmond. They also do a large loan business…

The firm is composed of three members, H. R. Pollard, Jr., John Bagby and James J. Pollard – all young men and hustlers in the real estate business…they have been brought up on the business they are now so successfully conducting, and they know it in all of its details from A to Z.

Their sales for the past two years have probably been as large, if not larger, than those of any similar firm in the State of Virginia. For the year 1906, as their books show, Pollard & Bagby’s gross sales of Virginia realty amounted to something like a million dollars…with the real estate business in Richmond improving every day, it now looks as if their business for 1907 will run far over the figures made for last year.

The farm sales department is managed by Mr. James B. Barker, who, like the principals is a real estate hustler. The business of this department is confined mainly to the buying and selling of farm lands and country homes in the counties of Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover, Caroline and Louisa. Within the past two years this branch of the business has been very successful, and Mr. Barker has located quite a number of Western and Northern families on good farms in the counties named. In every instance they have introduced good citizens, who are making two or more blades of good grass grow where only one, and that a poor one, perhaps, came up before…

The rental department…has been conducted with such activity all the houses on the long list are now occupied by good tenants.

Pollard & Bagby’s office force is made up of polite and accommodating gentlemen, who are not only proficient in the work assigned them, but are gentlemen with whom it is a pleasure to do business…

The firm of Pollard & Bagby, when first established twelve years ago, occupied offices on Eleventh Street, but their immense business outgrew that home, and just a year ago they moved into their present spacious quarters at 1102 East Main which was, at great expense, fitted up especially for the real estate business.

Well Done, Mr. Pollard – Richmond Newspaper, 1912

Varying causes seem to be conspiring to deprive Richmond of some of the very best men in her public service. Only two days ago that death which leaves a shining mark took away a faithful and zealous member of the Common Council, and today the announcement is made of the determination of H.R. Pollard, Jr. not to offer for re-election to the Common Council, in which he has served so well and so efficiently for the past decade. The city can ill-afford to lose the services of two such men as these.

Mr. Pollard retires from arduous duties of this public office with the consciousness of a duty well performed. Always a successful businessman, he had no material incentive for entering the City Council, save the desire to win by his public record the approbation of his fellow citizens. For the last four years he has served as chairman of the Finance Committee, and as vice-resident of the Common Council. In the former capacity, he has wrought much for Richmond, standing for progress, yet quick to check any unwarranted or unwise appropriation. In holding up uncalled-for expenditures of the city’s money, he has been earnest and unyielding. He supported heartily the plan for a better form of government, and worked for its adoption. One of the best businessmen in the City Council, he gave the city the benefit of his sane judgment and long experience. Because of the press of public duties, which all conscientious Councilmen feel bears too heavily upon him, he must retire to the conduct of his private affairs. In him Richmond loses a fine type of high-minded public servant, a man who by his splendid record has won the commendation of the people of this city.

Our costly “Moving Day” – Editorial – The Richmond Times-Dispatch, May 31, 1930

Relocating was quite an ordeal when Richmond had a single moving day.

John Bagby’s broadside against Richmond’s antiquated “moving day” custom came at the opportune moment to fall on attentive ears. It appeals tremendously to the housewife…and to many a real estate office, where the rush of business during the past week or two has been of nerve-wracking intensity. Nor were the city water and gas division and the telephone and power companies unmoved. They are reminded at this season of the hard work and the confusion they must experience around the first of September.

It must be remembered that Richmond no longer is a village. A single “moving day” probably worked very well in the days when comparatively few people went from one side of the street to the other. There were no telephones to think of, no electric wiring – indeed, few, if any, of the conveniences which now must be adjusted for new tenants. The spectacle of thousands of families changing places of abode on a single day not only is frightful to those who are responsible for utility adjustments, but it imposes an additional burden on the post office and the stores…

Mr. Bagby quotes the National Association of Real Estate Boards, which characterizes the once-a-year “moving day” as creating a Christmas rush without any of the benefits of Christmas…But the custom is even worse than that. It causes all for-rent signs to appear simultaneously…From an economic standpoint, it is our very worst custom.

It is suggested that Richmond have a year-round real estate market. In the movement to that end Mr. Bagby should have the whole-hearted support of every individual and every agency interested in the matter.

A Tribute to Mr. John Bagby from His Secretary

Such a man was Mr. John Bagby. He loved his fellow men and gave himself unstintingly to the thousands who came in contact with him in uplifting service. He dealt with all as a patient and kind father, and treated all alike, rich and poor, humble and great, white and colored. They all trusted him as one who would treat them right and give them a square deal.

If Mr. Bagby had any faults, it was that he loved too much. He was among the few who put his whole heart and soul into his dealing with this customers and considering them as his friends. His great sympathetic nature could not treat present business conditions in a cold-hearted way; that he could not do the impossible did not keep him from caring, and it hurt him as though someone was cutting his heart out. He was justifiably proud of his good name and wanted to keep up the splendid record of his firm. In Mr. Bagby’s own words to one of his customers shortly before his death: “If anybody could have conducted business on a higher plane, and tried to do the right thing more than we have, I do not know of any such party.”

During a war, we laud the great heroes who gave their lives for their country. Who shall say which is the supremest sacrifice–one who goes to war and is killed doing his duty, or one who as doing his duty in the battle with life. The Master said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

We are thankful we knew him and our lives are richer because of the example he set. We would like to follow the footsteps of one who lived his religion, and loved his neighbor more than self.