RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY/AP) — Gov. Ralph Northam has dedicated a set of newly renovated historic state buildings in Richmond in honor of one of Virginia’s most prominent and oldest living civil rights leaders, as well as others who had an impact on the Commonwealth.
“Today is about honoring good people who have served Virginia with great distinction, both today and in the past,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “I especially want to thank and honor the Townes family. They have made Pam’s and my time in the Executive Mansion a very happy moment in our lives. Virginia is a better place because of the Townes family.”
A set of three historic houses on Capitol Square was dedicated “Reid’s Row” on Friday. They will honor Dr. William Ferguson “Fergie” Reid. Reid in 1967 became the first African American elected to the General Assembly after Reconstruction.
“Thank you on behalf of the Reid family for the naming of Reid’s row,” said Dr. William Ferguson Reid, 96, who participated by video from his home in California. “I want to congratulate the Townes family, the Sargent family, and the Dowdy family, on the achievements that they have done.”
During the conversation, he recounted his experience working to register more Virginians to vote at a time when Virginia was still segregated and used ballot barriers as a way to limit Black voter registration.
One house, in particular, was named the “Townes House,” in honor of the Townes family that has served the Executive Mansion since the 1970s. Nine members of the Townes family—over three generations—have provided impeccable service and generous hospitality to residents and guests of the Executive Mansion.
There are currently four members of the Townes family working in the Mansion – Martin “Tutti” Townes, his wife Stephanie Townes, son Martin Townes Jr., and daughter Cherry Townes.
“I know my mother is smiling down on Virginia today,” said Tutti Townes, head Butler at the Executive Mansion.
Northam also dedicated the “Sargent Building” in honor of First Lieutenant Ruppert L. Sargent, the first African American officer to receive the Medal of Honor.
Sargent was a Hampton native who was killed in action during the Vietnam War. A city office building in Hampton is also named for him.
Lastly, the renovated entrance to North Drive will honor Capitol Police Master Officer Woodrow W. “Buddy” Dowdy III at the new Post 1 guardhouse.
He served as a Capitol Police officer for 33 years and spent the last decade of his service assigned to Post 1. Dowdy died on March 9, 2021.
“Buddy was an outstanding police officer, a dear friend, and a good man,” said Colonel Steve Pike, Chief of Capitol Police. “We all miss him very much.”