Volunteers needed for stair cleanup Saturday

Are you looking for a chance to volunteer and to help clear and clean a piece of Richmond history? Well, here’s your chance.

The Society for Preservation and Use of Resources (SPUR) (of which I am a board member) is partnering with local preservationist Scott Bartel to clean a set of stairs on the east side of the Whitewater Gorge near South Third and D streets in Old Richmond.

The stairs, called the Starr Hill Stars, were built around 1900 and allowed workers, many of whom were German immigrants from Richmond’s south end, access to factories, most notably the Starr Piano Company factory, in the Gorge.

The stairs have remained mostly hidden for years but now Bartel and SPUR have decided to clear the stairs, clean vegetation and allow residents another access to the Gorge.

“This is part of our history,” said SPUR board President Gunty Atkins. “At one time there were hundreds of workers who used these stairs every day. We want to open that up again and allow people a glimpse of our past.”

“This is a great community project. It’s another connector and allows us to honor and remember all those who worked in the Gorge,” Bartel said.

At one time between 800 and 1,000 people worked in the Starr Piano factory.

Work begins at 9 a.m. Saturday. Anyone interested should meet at that time at Third and D in Old Richmond. Wear work clothes and bring shovels, gloves and anything that will help remove honeysuckle.

A majority of the work will be to clear a tunnel at the top of the stairs that allowed workers to walk under the C&O Railroad tracks above. The tunnel is currently filled with debris.

Bartel is using a $250 Bill Frazier Memorial grant he received from SPUR to pay for an excavator to help with the clean-up.

If you have time, please join us Saturday!

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