Defense Logistics Agency Aviation is headquartered at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Va.
The commander of DLA Aviation also commands the installation, which hosts numerous other tenant organizations from DLA and other agencies.
The post occupies one of the oldest inhabited parcels of land in the country. A video history of the installation has been prepared by Cortina Productions, contracted by DLA Installation Support at Richmond.
American Indian artifacts found here date back to between 1,200 and 3,500 B.C. and indicate it was used as a trade site.
A monument, dedicated in 2002, marks the spot where more than 1,000 artifacts were found.
In 1619, Thomas Sheffield received a 2,300 acre land grant from the Crown of England. He was part of the original Jamestown settlement and journeyed into this area with his family. In 1622, the Sheffield family and other settlers were killed during an Indian raid. In 1634, Seth Ward received the property as a land grant from Henrico Shire and named it Auburn Chase.
In 1797, Richard Gregory purchased 1,000 acres of Auburn Chase and named his plantation New Oxford. He built Manor House between 1797 and 1804. It is one of the oldest houses in Chesterfield County and is listed as a national historic landmark. It is an example of the Georgian-style architecture favored by
Virginia planters during the 18th century.
Gregory was one of the wealthiest landowners and largest slaveholders in the county. He and his family are buried here in a family plot with 14 known graves. The graves were originally located in an open meadow; the government enclosed the plot when it purchased the land.
During construction of the post’s child care center in 1998, fragments of human bone were found. An archeologist unearthed the graves of six people of African American descent: three males and three females, ranging in age from 18 to 45 years. Notices were placed in local newspapers to see if anyone would be able to identify or claim the remains, without success. The six people were re-interred during a 1999 ceremony in a plot close to where they were originally found.
In 1847, the land passed to Gregory’s daughter Lavinia and her husband Major Augustus Drewry. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Drewry joined the Confederate Army and helped construct a fort on the edge of the property known as Drewry’s Bluff, or Fort Darling. The fort overlooked the James River and was designed to prevent Union boats from reaching Richmond.
In May 1864, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard made the site his headquarters and met with Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Manor House to discuss plans for halting the Union’s advance on Richmond.
After the war, Drewry traded the farm to Captain James Jones. Jones wasn’t successful at farming, since the land was worn out from tobacco and cotton crops. In 1887, the property was sold to James Bellwood whose name continues to be associated with the site.
Bellwood paid $18.50 per acre for 2,000 acres of land and made Manor House his home and the property became known as Bellwood Farms.
To restore the productivity of the soil, Bellwood introduced crop rotation, used mulching and natural fertilizers and installed miles of drainage tiles and levees. Kingsland Creek fed two ponds on the property: Parker Pond and another where the post pool is now located.
In 1901, Bellwood built two houses on his property for crews working on power and trolley lines between Petersburg and Richmond to live in. In 1913, he moved the two houses, joined them together and gave the home to his son Frank as a wedding gift. Frank and his wife lived in the house until the government purchased the property. The house was moved 200 feet east to its present location to make way for construction of warehouses and served as the post commander’s home, or Quarters One.
Bellwood won many awards for his crops and livestock at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915; some are on display in building 34. He grew 200 varieties of grains, grasses and forage crops and also had a dairy farm which supplied milk to Richmond markets. He had a herd of over 1,000 Holstein cattle and a prize herd of beef cattle. The large dairy barn on the site was razed in 1947, however, the Community Center may have been used by Bellwood and by the Army as a stable or feed storage shed.
The farm was a popular weekend destination for locals, who came to view the livestock, wildlife and gardens. The Canadian native missed the elk of his homeland so much that he imported a pair of Wapiti elk from the Northwest. The elk flourished and were a hit with the local residents.
Mr. Bellwood was also involved in the community and played a key role in helping to establish a trolley line and turnpike between Richmond and Petersburg and with starting the Chesterfield County telephone system.
When Bellwood died in 1924, his family wanted to sell the land, but they were concerned about the fate of the elk. The War Department was looking for a site to build a supply depot and wanted the Bellwood property. Bellwood’s son agreed the sale, but with the stipulation that the elk would remain on the land and be cared for. The Army officer negotiating the sale was sympathetic and a handshake sealed the deal in 1941. Read more about the Bellwood Elk.
In the early years of the post, money was allocated for the elk’s upkeep. Over time proceeds from employee donations and the center’s aluminum recycling program provided for the elk, but with the move to plastic bottling for drinks, these funds decreased through the years. In 2013, Defense Logistics Agency’s Office of General Counsel reviewed historical documentation of the sale of the land and agreement to care for the elk and determined appropriate funds could be used to care for the elk. Today, management and care of the elk is overseen by Defense Logistics Agency Installation Support at Richmond. Through the years the Bellwood Elk Herd has been an important part of the installation’s culture and a source of great pride among the workforce as the Department of Defense continues to honor the original agreement made with the Bellwood Family.
The Army purchased the land in 1941 from the Bellwood family for $150 an acre. The post was activated in 1942 as the Richmond General Depot, under command of the Army Quartermaster Corps. Its headquarters was in building 34, which had a cafeteria, fire station and fireman’s dormitory, in addition to administrative space. The building was renovated in 2005 and retains much of its original look, including coach lighting, and a marble floor and staircase in the foyer.
During World War II, the depot received, stored and shipped quartermaster, medical and engineer items supporting the war effort. A round house was built for the four locomotives used on post. More than 8,000 employees worked here and in a single day, 850 rail cars came in and out of post carrying supplies.
The depot had a 400-car classification yard and 17 miles of track that connected to the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. Most of the track was removed in 1996, when the last two locomotives were sold.
In 1943, a 2,000 capacity prisoner of war camp was built on a 50-acre parcel adjacent to the depot. German POWs built the camp which held 1,200 German prisoners, with 130 military policemen guarding the camp.
Throughout the years, the name and mission of the post changed many times as it adapted to the needs of the nation’s military. In 1962, DoD consolidated the service-run, single-manager supply agencies into the Defense Supply Agency, now known as Defense Logistics Agency.
In 1996, the post name changed to Defense Supply Center Richmond. More than 3,000 employees work on the 600-acre site today supporting the nation’s military services.
In 2010, the name of the aviation supply and demand chain changed from DSCR to DLA Aviation – better representing the supply chains core mission. The name of the property remained Defense Supply Center Richmond.