Located on the corner of Broad and Jefferson Streets, The Quirk Hotel is a cultural trifecta of architectural, culinary, and visual arts. The culmination is a product that has the capacity to transform the Richmond cultural scene. The boutique hotel recently opened on September 1 under the vision of owners Ted and Katie Ukrop. A boutique hotel is one that is smaller in size than a standard chain hotel, and the Quirk hosts a total of 74 rooms and supports an eclectic environment, whether that be in the form of an unique location, individualistic clientele, distinctive atmosphere, or notable decor.
The building itself is a piece of art. Ted Ukrop said “this space, it just needed to be more than just VCU students. It’s just too grand of a building to house college kids, the building was inspiring in itself.” A look around the edifice holds this to be true; tall columns with groin ceilings stand in the lobby with arched windows looking out along Jefferson and Broad Streets on two of the walls. Originally a JB Moresby department store, the Italian Renaissance building was designed by notable architects Starrett and Van Vleck in 1916. The building’s stint as a JB Moseby store ended with the Great Depression in 1929, when it hosted a Sears and Roebuck. After this point, the building’s history is ambiguous until the Ukrop’s’ purchase of it in 1997. Under their ownership, the building has been used for commercial space and VCU student apartments. The building’s potential, derived from its history and admirable architecture, will hopefully be realized by its new identity as the host of the Quirk Hotel.
Quirk Hotel carries on the name of the Quirk Gallery, owned by Katie Ukrop. The gallery moved into an adjoining building and helps highlight the hotel’s focus: art. One can easily enjoy the hotel’s appreciation of art; details such as a Sarah Hand painting of the Ukrops’ dog hanging in the hallway, the Eric Yevak pieces exhibiting in the Quirk shop, or the original pieces adorning every hotel room. Ted Ukrop says one of the hotel’s goals is to leave guests “inspired by the artwork.”
Quirk Hotel is not only an attractive destination for a Richmond visitor, but also for a denizen. Ted Ukrop said “People have said this doesn’t feel like Richmond, it feels like New York or a little bit Europe,” and a quick stroll around the lobby proves this be very true. Exiting Broad Street to enter the hotel teleports you to a scene that is the epitome of appreciation of fine culture and art. In the lobby, one can find local artisans selling their goods, the Quirk shop off to the side, the restaurant Maple and Pine for culinary exploration, and a surrounding celebration of art. Richmonders are offered the chance to step through a portal into a unique environment to appreciate visual, architectural, and culinary art. One can peruse the works of talented artists while standing in a beautiful piece of architectural design and dining on pieces of culinary artwork by Chef David Dunlap all without booking a room. Quirk Hotel enables Richmonders to find a new piece of art without taking a trip or buying a ticket.
In regards to Quirk fitting into the greater Richmond picture, Ted Ukrop has “always felt, number one, that Richmond is an underrated tourist destination. Obviously it’s a very beautiful city and the history, you can argue that no city in America has greater history, maybe Philadelphia or Boston are up there. I felt like we have always been missing kind of a smaller boutique, more like a contemporary design hotel … Also, the Broad Street Revitalization, the art galleries that are popping up, and the great culinary scene … the timing was right and it felt like Richmond was right”.
All photos were taken by Georgia Beazley.