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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.