Welcome to the Hipp! Those are Ron Stallings famous words as he escorts you into the grandeur theatre that we know as The Hippodrome. The Hippodrome is located in historic Jackson Ward right off of Second Street. The Hippodrome was originally opened in 1914 as an entertainment venue for African Americans. It quickly became a leading attraction during the Harlem Renaissance era attracting big name performers. Some of those that performed on The Hippodrome’s stage include Billie Holiday, Bill Robinson (Bojangles), Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, James Brown, and Ella Fitzgerald. The history of the era and the culture swirl around you as you walk through the venue.
The Hippodrome is outfitted with state of the art lighting and sound systems, a top shelf fully stocked bar, swanky tables and linens, and a catering staff that has been trained to deliver top notch service. The motto of the Hippodrome is “as you wish.” This venue is perfect for the event that has high aspirations, or for those couples who really like to wow their guests. The ceiling rafters can support aerial dancers, and the venue can hold about 500 guests.
Behind the main bar of the Hippodrome is a second room with a large bar. This was an old screening room and is the perfect space for the guys to hang out on wedding day. This would also be a great space for a cocktail party, or smaller event.
Next to the Hippodrome is the Taylor Mansion, now referred to as The Speakeasy. The Taylor Mansion was built in 1895 and was the largest home owned by an African American at the time. During the Hippodrome renovations they incorporated the Taylor Mansion into the venue space. There is a fantastic bridal suite, with plenty of room for all of your lady friends. There is also a cigar room next to a balcony that makes for a great escape, or yet another place for your wedding party and guests. The Speakeasy is attached to the Hippodrome and can be accessed from inside and outside the venue. From the outside the Speakeasy looks like a mansion turned restaurant. And it is, it’s a world class restaurant and bar serving “food for your soul.” The restaurant is a great venue for rehearsal dinners or morning after brunch. As the name would imply the Speakeasy is also more than just a restaurant. For those who are in the know, it’s also a secret venue and bar. Down the hallway, and behind a bookshelf is a whole other venue. You must know the password for access and there is an outside door in the side ally. The side door in the ally is a fun entrance for a themed event, or just a little something extra to add to your guests experience. Once you have given the password you are escorted into a lounge area where there are tables, lounge furniture, a stage, and of course a fully stocked bar. Since you read this post almost through to the end, you have earned the password to The Speakeasy. The password is “I brought cash.”
We toured this venue during the day, when they did not have any events. The photos that Stacy Dinch Photography took show the venue in it’s rawest form. She did an amazing job capturing the venue before it’s gussied up with lights and decor. To see what it may look like on an event night check out http://www.hippodromerichmond.com I have also included some photos that the venue provided.