History

Commissioned in 1937, Saunders Station marked the westward expansion into the Richmond suburbs. The Colonial Revival building was part of the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration and featured ornate Deco fixtures and details, like stretcher headers, which, by a stroke of luck, were mostly intact for restoration when we took ownership of the building in 2015. Because the building was a WPA project, the quality and integrity of the building are more profound than what it otherwise would have been; allowing elements to be better preserved and restored.

The purchase—made directly with the Department of Interior—came with several provisions, much beyond the standard Historic Tax Credit and modern building standards (which were also adhered to). One of the protected elements was the lobby, which was painstakingly restored as carefully as possible to the original layout.

As Seen On:

Dwell

American Institute of Architects


Mobelux Lobby

Lobby

One of the items that the Federal Government was keen to protect in the sale of Saunders Station was the lobby. Historically, the lobby of a Post Office served as a place for the transfer of knowledge and information. You’d learn about your neighbors and community, and about the events of the world. We lovingly restored the lobby to its original 1937 standards to rebuild this community space for a revitalizing area of Broad Street.

The vestibule, marble wainscotting, and terrazzo floor is the original

The Bulletin cabinets outside the Postmasters Office were produced by government suppliers, and are identical in all Post Offices of this era. The entire wall and original postal counter were all covered in temporary pegboard merchandise displays.

The pink marble countertops were reused from ornate marble showers in the original locker rooms, to denote the original and more modern postal counters

The space is now situated to host community events; from developer meetups like Women Who Code and React Javascript Developers to Community Storytelling, designer events, fundraisers, and other community partnerships and events.

When the roof was peeled back, signs of original 12’x35’ skylights were found, replaced long ago with a standard roof. As a nod to the original feature, we brought back a small skylight to serve as an entrance into the work floor, and the footprint of the original skylight is denoted in grey

Mural

The Great Fire

Julien Binford, Charcoal on Paper, 1942

When we moved in, there was a noticeable void outside the Supervisors office. In researching the history of the building, we learned that there should have been a WPA mural there, but it was never completed. We discovered that a Richmond-based artist, who had been internationally recognized at this time, Julien Binford, was awarded the commission for the mural.

He created a full-size 8x16’ charcoal sketch on canvas, he named The Great Fire. The VMFA assisted in documenting the sketch and sending it along to the Federal Arts and Building commissions, where it was approved.

The day after the mural was approved, the Richmond Times-Dispatch printed a tiny and rough depiction of the mural in the opinion section under the caption “Mural To Depict Burning Of Richmond,” which touched off weeks of protests and complaints that played out mostly in the papers Opinion pages. People called the art obscene, offensive and inappropriate for a public building. They pointed out the woman was partially nude, made racist claims, but generally, it was deemed that the subject matter depicting Richmond after the Confederate soldiers burned it was too controversial. Over the months, the artist was forced to make concessions. However, the final version was never completed as the funds were dedicated to the WWII effort.

After much research, we tracked down these accounts and a high-resolution image of the original sketch, which we had replicated as initially designed by the artist.


Saunders Conference Room

Conference Rooms

Our two conference rooms reflect our reverence for the history of the building while serving different purposes:

Saunders Significance and Features

Named after the building’s namesake, Clyde Saunders. Clyde was a “fixer” type in early Richmond politics, known for making shady dealings in smoky back rooms. He was made Postmaster towards the end of his life as a thank you for his service (Postmaster was often a politically driven appointment). The building was commissioned and inherited his name during his tenure.

Photographs of the building just before its Grand Opening (complete with streetcar tracks), and a map depicting the potential locations for the “West End Post Office” as it was casually called at the time.

This room is used to host company meetings and client presentations.

Binford Significance and Features

Named after artist Julien Binford, artist of our mural.

When Mobelux purchased the building, the office was in terrible shape, it had a drop ceiling, which covered up the beautiful two-story windows and picture rail, carpeted floor, and water damage on the plaster walls and original floors.

The TV is an OLED TV that is great for presentations, and the Herman Miller furniture offers an intimate setting for closed-door meetings and presentations.

The 8x10” photos depict the work of Binford, working on his first mural, “The Forest Loggers” in a Post Office in Forest, Mississippi, and other depictions of his work throughout his career.

The large photos depict classic Richmond scenes; Downtown Broad Street at 7th Street and our neighbor Steamer Company No. 10, now the Firehouse Theater.

Library

Library

We erected a new wall to close off the Saunders Room and the small storage room, and it created our library. The new room houses our awards and memorabilia.

We created the ladder hardware using a section of a ladder found onsite.

The vault originally housed money orders and stamps and will now be a place to take a phone call or escape the open floor plan on a comfortable couch and chairs.


Workfloor

Creative Rooms & Work Floor

The open desking replaces the open floor that the postal employees initially used to store, sort, and deliver mail for the region.

48 Herman Miller chairs and desks cover the floor (we have 35 employees currently), and a bank of creative rooms adorn a back wall. They offer a place for small groups to meet, take a phone call, or any respite from the open-desking.

Kitchen

Kitchen & Outdoor Spaces

The break room, formerly a loading dock, is one of the most significant transformations of the building.

The original swinging doors are hanging in place but now are on ornamental rails.

We’ve turned the whole area into a modern, glass-enclosed space; a drastic change from the dark rooms the mail carts used to pass through as they were off-loaded. Light now floods the space via glass.

We have lunch here as a team or on our own, we work here sometimes, and sometimes even have meetings.

Also, check out the frosted glass light features and, out in the parking lot, glass tops that now cover the former manhole covers into the old coal chute below. The glass doors lead into an enclosed bike rack and patio and back down into the basement.


Executive Office

Executive Offices

When we took ownership, the upstairs offices were in the roughest shape. The roof had failed, and years of rain had damaged the plaster walls and pine floors. They now sport mid-century and industrial furniture, Persian rugs.

The rooms, originally designated as "Swing rooms" with large shared bathrooms, had been relegated to storage for telephone equipment.

Due to ADA and historic protections on the inspector's walkway that divides the rooms, there wasn't much that could be done to transform the rooms, so they've been restored as two well-equipped offices for our Co-Founders, Jeff Rock and Garrett Ross.

Speakeasy

Basement

When we took over the basement was nothing but peeling paint, a locker room stuffed with mid-century furniture and discarded pamphlets and mailers, and a long-abandoned coal-fired boiler and coal chutes.

The Lux

When The Westhampton Theater announced it would be closing after 80 years, Johnny Hugel jumped at the opportunity and secured 24 seats, one of the last remaining original pieces of the theater in the city.

A local musician and studio engineer, Andrew Everding of Tiny Lion, consulted on the audio configuration and defined the baffles, curtains, and carpet that helped transform the room into a legit 5:1 theater experience.

Originally intended as a recreation element and a place to have fun on weekends with friends, space has quickly become crucial to Mobelux culture; providing a venue for client presentations, design reviews, and community storytelling events.

Studio

The Studio allows our production team and design teams to collaborate on product photoshoots, define portrait sessions, and mock-up new directions for pitching new work to clients.

Sometimes, people do yoga in it.

Boiler Room and Coal Chutes

The Boiler Room and Coal Chutes complete the transition into a recreation and amusement space, providing a pool table, dark and comfortable seating, and bar-tops and table options for everything from card games to mid-afternoon paired programming sessions. It is not uncommon to find Mobelux employees spread out throughout the basement, playing pool or working at one of the tables or couches, completing the comfortable work balance defined by the structured spaces on the main work floor.

We suggested that a "speakeasy" could transform the dark and damp former coal chute, and a theater could make use of the brick and cement box that housed the locker room. BOB (architects) went wild, working with the designs and contractors to bring the far-fetched requests to life.

The Lux

Dominion Energy

Helping a trusted utility company introduce a new suite of services and products.

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