Photo courtesy Virginia Baptist Historical Society, color by Sanna Dullaway
Photo courtesy Virginia Baptist Historical Society, color by Sanna Dullaway

Art had never before captured the stunning realism that became possible with the invention of photography. But to our eyes today, images in sepia make the scenes they show look distant from us.

Artist Sanna Dullaway has built a career out of interpreting old photos by adding color to them. Here, she applies her talent to images from Richmond’s early years, letting us see the past more like the people then might have seen it. We’ve included the original black-and-white images to show just how dramatically the color interpretations transform the images.

An early Spider's view
1917 Westhampton commencement procession, from a scrapbook in the archives of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society that was kept by Florence Smith, a member of the graduating class. The white building on the hill, where Boatwright Library now stands, was the site of commencement exercises from 1914 to 1925. Photograph courtesy Virginia Baptist Historic Society
An early Spider's view
An early Spider's view
Looking south, circa the early 1930s, at a stop on the 700 block of East Broad Street for a Westhampton trolley, which transported generations of students until 1947. A 1926 advertisement in The Collegian said the trip from the Main Street train station to campus took 30 minutes. Today's UR Downtown is located just behind where the photographer stood to take this photo. Photograph courtesy Boatwright Memorial Library
An early Spider's view
Aerial image, circa 1929. The Red Cross constructed the white building in the right center, near where Booker Hall now stands, in 1918 as a recreation hall for soldiers when UR's campus served as a military hospital during World War I. After the war, the building became a gymnasium for Westhampton students. Photograph courtesy Boatwright Memorial Library
An early Spider's view
An early Spider's view
Biology lab in 1939, likely in Maryland Hall, which is now home to the president's office. Maryland was one of three buildings constructed in the late 1920s and early 1930s as Richmond's home for the sciences. Maryland focused on biology, Richmond Hall on physics, and Puryear Hall on chemistry. These disciplines all moved to the Gottwald Center for the Sciences when it opened in 1977. Photograph courtesy Library of Virginia
An early Spider's view
Ryland Hall circa 1950, when it housed the university's main library. This great hall is now home to faculty in the English department and still is a showcase space. Photograph courtesy Boatwright Memorial Library
An early Spider's view
An early Spider's view
Art studio class in 1939. According to the Westhampton College course catalog, a painting class met that year from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays in "Pb," or the physics building, i.e., Richmond Hall, which is now home to the psychology department. The person in the white coat second from the right is likely art instructor Marcia Silvette. Photograph courtesy Library of Virginia
An early Spider's view
Westhampton students, possibly student-athletes, circa 1923, on a track on the site of present-day Crenshaw Field. North Court is visible in the background, and this location is visible in the aerial photo above. Athletics department archives indicate that Westhampton students began intercollegiate competition in track and field in 1914, the college's first year. Physical education also had a central place in the early academic curriculum under the leadership of athletic director Fannie Crenshaw. Photograph courtesy Virginia Baptist Historic Society
An early Spider's view
An early Spider's view
Richmond College runners, likely in the late 19th century, location unknown. Athletics department archives date the first official men's track and field season in 1910, but some intercollegiate meets happened before then. They grew out of highly competitive campus field days that were a fixture by the 1890s. An 1893 article in The Messenger, a student publication, asks for intercollegiate contests, noting that Richmond already competes in "base ball, foot ball, and lawn tennis matches." Go Spiders! Photograph courtesy Boatwright Memorial Library