St. Luke Building

VLR Listing Date


NRHP Listing Date


NRHP Reference Number

82004589; AD82004589; BC100003005

The St. Luke Building was erected as the national headquarters of the Independent Order of St. Luke, a black benevolent society founded after the Civil War to provide guidance and financial aid to struggling freed slaves. Under the leadership of Maggie L. Walker, the pioneering black businesswoman, philanthropist, and educator, the society prospered through services that helped bridge the gap between slavery and freedom. Its many activities effectively eased the burdens of illness and death, encouraged savings and thrift, provided an outlet for inexpensive but well-made retail goods, and promoted through its news weekly Mrs. Walker’s ideals for her race. The headquarters, the oldest black-affiliated office building in Richmond, was designed by John H. White and built in 1903. The building was enlarged in 1915 under the direction of Charles T. Russell of Virginia Union University.

Previously listed in 1981, the state and national register nomination for Richmond’s St. Luke Building has been updated and the boundary designation for the property enlarged to include 902-904 St. James Street, a two-unit rowhouse that was historically and functionally associated with the Order of St. Luke and its headquarters in the St. Luke Building at 900 St. James Street. The St. Luke Building once served as the national headquarters of the Independent Order of St. Luke, a mutual aid society founded in 1869. The order’s mission to foster African-American economic independence was largely realized through enterprises housed in the St. Luke Building, including the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, printing facilities for the St. Luke Herald, and offices for the International Order of St. Luke.
[VLR Listing, Update and Boundary Increase: 12/14/2017; NRHP Listing, Update: 10/2/2018; NRHP Listing, Boundary Increase: 10/5/2018]

Last Updated: February 2, 2024

Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.

VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

For additional information Read

Nomination Form

2018 Boundary Increase Nomination
2018 Update Nomination


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