Robins plans to leave a mansion to the Historical Society … Makers of indie movies, get your five minutes of fame … John Conrad goes out on his own … The wall around the Windsor House gets a big hole. 

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Robins plans to leave a mansion to the Historical SocietyMakers of indie movies, get your five minutes of fameJohn Conrad goes out on his ownThe wall around the Windsor House gets a big hole. Robins plans to leave a mansion to the Historical Society Richmond philanthropist Lora Robins, the widow of pharmaceutical magnate E. Claiborne Robins Sr., has quietly promised her mansion to the Virginia Historical Society and Museum. A spokeswoman for the society was hesitant to discuss the gift, but acknowledged last week that Robins has included the gift in her will. Clear View, Robins' genteel, 18-room Colonial, sits on a rolling, well-manicured landscape with an expansive back yard. It looks across River Road at the Country Club of Virginia. The 8,244-square-foot house, in the Chatham Hills subdivision, has six bedrooms, seven full baths, and a 6,201-square-foot basement. It is assessed at $1.41 million. The land is valued at $215,000. "It is a beautiful piece of property and a beautiful residence filled with lovely furnishings," says Pam Seay, the society's assistant director for development and public affairs. But, she adds, the significance of such a personal gift is more than monetary. The house could be appropriate for off-site programs, a retreat center, a headquarters or a residence for future directors of the society, among other things. But no plans have been made, Seay says. The historical society already owns another house through a bequest, the Virginia House in Windsor Farms. That is used for educational programs and public tours. The gift from Robins is certainly not her first foray into philanthropy. She is the benefactor of the Lora Robins Collection of Virginia Art at the historical society, and has significantly contributed to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Most recently, Robins donated $7 million to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to develop a three-acre sculpture garden. Robins and her late husband, whose family founded the pharmaceutical company A.H. Robins, have given to a number of other Richmond institutions as well, including the University of Richmond and the Greater Richmond Chapter of the American Red Cross. Jason Roop Makers of indie movies, get your five minutes of fame Longing for your 15 minutes of fame? How about five? Richmond independent film makers, actors and musicians soon will get access to five minutes on the Internet. Richmond-based Five Minutes of Fame, dedicated to the promotion of indie artists, will launch its new Web site,, with a party Feb. 23. Five Minutes was started by Gavin Giles and Jonathan Jones. Giles is a former New York fashion photographer, and Jones has worked in New York on films such as "G.I. Jane," "Studio 54" and "Big Daddy." Giles and Jones hope the Web site will provide a networking opportunity for anyone interested in the indie scene. The Web site will highlight local indie events and give information about films currently being produced, as well as serve as a place for indie artists to showcase their work. For $20, Giles and Jones will review a film and show a brief video clip on the site. Five Minutes will also film, direct and edit films and music videos. Prices will be listed on the Web site. Giles says networking is the most important aspect of the site. "There will be a place for artists to post résumés," Giles says. "[The site] is a way for everybody to find out where everybody else is." The launch party will be held 9 p.m to midnight, Feb. 23, at the Graphics Lab in 6th Street Marketplace. It costs $2 to get in. For more information, call 261-2448 or click on — Alison Smith John Conrad goes out on his own The timing couldn't have been more perfect, former Richmond 1st District Councilman John Conrad says about his decision to up and leave his job. It's something he's been thinking about for some time, he says. But things like City Council and a short but sweet statewide attorney general's race kept getting in the way. Last week Conrad left his position at Sands Anderson Marks & Miller, a 55-member downtown Richmond law firm where he's worked for 20 years. He spent nine of those as its president. "I wanted a simpler life," he says. Conrad's rented a space in the brightly-colored Candyland of Uptown at 1508 W. Main Street just west of Lombardy Street. The name of the new practice, appropriately, is The Conrad Firm. So far, it consists of Conrad, his secretary and his paralegal. He'll likely start recruiting for another attorney once he's gotten settled in. The new firm will specialize in "government relations" law, says Conrad, helping businesses and developers get the kinds of legal help they need for contracts, licenses, permits and the like. He says he's surprised that a half-dozen or so clients already have expressed interest in following him up to his new office on West Main Street. Conrad's last day at Sands Anderson was Thursday; The Conrad Firm was open for business the very next day. That would have been impossible, he says, with a bigger firm. Timing is everything, he says, but he admits he had an incentive: "My wife, my secretary and my paralegal all thought it was a good idea. And that was enough for me." Brandon Walters The wall around the Windsor House gets a big hole. Whoever has details about how the nearly-5-foot brick wall surrounding the Windsor house was damaged recently is evidently keeping mum. An accident of some sort happened sometime over a recent weekend. How's that for particulars? Well, obviously. The gaping hole in the wall is smack dab in the front section of the wall facing the historic all-brick home. Right next to the historic marker. From the looks of it — a gaping, humongous hole in the wall — a vehicle is the likely culprit. In fact, it looks an awful lot like something a Suburban could have done. Hmmm. Calls to the Windsor Farms civic association and to Agecroft Hall turned up precious little. In fact, in a neighborhood reputed for being the first to know, few apparently do. In fact, Style was left to the delicate task of informing both groups of the damage. "We don't have anything to do with it," says one woman with the Windsor Farms association who asked not to be identified. Not her problem, she adds: "It's not even really a part of Windsor Farms." Jennifer Reilly, a spokesperson with the Richmond Police, says officers who work that area have no idea how the wall was smashed. The police never were called. For years, stately Windsor has been operated by a private foundation that sees to its care and maintenance. Calls to the Davenport & Co., the brokerage firm that handles the foundation's money — quietly, we imagine — weren't returned. The caretaker's number never fetched an answer. Apparently it's a mystery. But if you drive down Calycanthus Road in the next week or so, you won't miss it. Most recently the house has been used for all kinds of receptions, weddings, teas and garden parties. It's hard to say whether the foundation that runs the Windsor house or its neighbors will decide to have the wall fixed. Brandon Walters


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