An historic law firm flees the wrecking ball. 

Eminent Domain

Working out of offices on Third Street in Jackson Ward for nearly 40 years, the historic law firm of Hill, Tucker & Marsh fought some of the most famous civil-rights battles in the nation and closer to home, saved many local homes of African Americans from demolition when their neighborhoods were in the path of so-called progress.

Now, Hill, Tucker & Marsh has its own date with the wrecking ball.

Due to the multimillion dollar expansion of the Richmond Centre, the law firm's office at 509 N. 3rd St. will be demolished in coming weeks. The firm is packing up and moving to the office building at 600 W. Broad St.

"I really have mixed feelings. We don't want to leave this place," says state Sen. Henry Marsh, one of the firm's senior partners. "It's very comfortable. It's everything we need and it's where we need to be ... but we understand progress has to be made and the convention center will mean a lot to the region."

The firm, which has changed names several times over the years, traces its origins back to the 1940s and has always been in the Jackson Ward neighborhood. Its partners have included the late Spottswood W. Robinson III and the firm's current senior partner Oliver Hill Sr., both of whom helped fight the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court case that ended school segregation.

The firm moved to the Southern Aid building on Third Street in 1961 and relocated across the street to its present offices in 1977.

"This has been the office since I can remember as a child, so it's sort of heart-wrenching to pack up and move," says Nadine Marsh Carter, Marsh's daughter and one of the firm's six lawyers. "I remember being in the halls and listening to the great legal discussions that ultimately changed peoples' lives in Virginia and, I think, across the United States."

The Third Street office holds lots of family memories. In the front of the building are flowers planted by Carter's late uncle, Harold Marsh, a firm partner and judge who was killed in a 1997 drive-by shooting. They'll be digging the flowers up and taking them to the new office, Carter says.

More than 12 sitting judges have been chosen out of the offices of Hill, Tucker & Marsh. The firm hopes to have them all photographed in front of the building before it's demolished next month.

Hill, Tucker & Marsh received $387,500 in compensation for the building from the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, a figure Marsh says is less than the appraised value.

The law office isn't the only landmark building making way for the Richmond Centre expansion. In recent weeks, the old Joseph W. Bliley Funeral Home at 300 E. Marshall was destroyed.

Vacant since 1995, the white brick Civil War-era building was a working funeral home before 1865. Members of the Bliley family were born and laid out in its upstairs residence quarters for

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