Building community, one building at a time: Margaret Freund

“Successful communities promote inclusivity. We need to stop only surrounding ourselves with people who are like us.”

Margaret FreundI have faced many challenges during my tenure at Diversity Richmond, but explaining Margaret Freund in a few paragraphs is impossible. Whether you’ve met her or not, if you have traveled the streets of Richmond, you’ve seen her work. For years, Margaret has played a major role in saving and restoring old buildings, but she does much more than that. One of the very few women working in this realm, she specializes in adaptive reuse, while bringing new life into neighborhoods.

Ever eaten at Bottom’s Up Pizza? Then say, “Thank you, Margaret” as renovating that building – before the Flood Wall -- was her first commercial project. Since that time, she has developed about 20 other properties in Richmond, including Canal Crossing, Haxall View Lofts, Lava Lofts and Lady Byrd Hat.

While Margaret is clearly a gifted visionary and a history maker, what impresses me the most is her commitment to inclusion and diversity. Her properties may vary in style, age and location, but they are connected with a common thread that she espouses, that of having a social conscience.

After completing law school, but deciding she did not want to practice, Margaret played in a band that rehearsed in the dilapidated basement of east end’s former Robert S. Fulton Elementary School. When the school’s owner died, Margaret pursued buying the building. “Back then, I was a house painter by day,” she laughed. “The school already had a few artists’ studios and I wanted to keep it that way.” While many developers would have demolished the school, Margaret saw how the beauty of a 1917 building could be transformed. And we thank her for that.

Since that time, Fulton Hill Studios has been the home of numerous creatives who have relished the original charm of the building, such as the woodwork, high ceilings, terrazzo hallways and slate classroom blackboards. And now, Margaret’s amazing vision is bringing another new life to the school.

Surrounded by 100-year-old trees, the newly renovated building will include a 3,000-square foot gym, art gallery, café, a ceramic studio and a market, in addition to art studios and live-work spaces.

Next door to Fulton Hill Studios is Margaret’s most recent project that overlooks the city skyline, Rocketts Landing and the James River. Artisan Hill Apartment Community has significantly changed the landscape of Greater Fulton, and all for the better. The beautiful neighborhood replaced an abandoned field that attracted unsavory behaviors and had become a dumping ground for trash. She built a new field, with lights, for the community to use.

“We had full support of the neighborhood residents, who also wanted to create more community. “My work on Artisan Hill addresses three areas,” she shared. “Creativity and art; health and wellness; and giving back to the community. Greater Fulton has always been a special neighborhood, and I want to keep this the diverse, inclusive community it’s always been.” Margaret lives in the legacy building with her partner of 8 years and their pets.

~ Bill Harrison

Why Margaret Supports Diversity Richmond

Margaret appreciates the work of Diversity Richmond because she well remembers growing up in a Richmond where inclusion was not looked upon as good. “What happens at Diversity Richmond is phenomenal. When I was young there was no place to go, no one to talk too,” she shared. “The number one thing that Diversity Richmond does is provide opportunities for people to better understand their own journeys as LGBTQ people. Having support can help people make better choices for themselves. It can be so good to be validated.”

Margaret Freund is CEO of Fulton Hill Properties, developer for Artisan Hill Apartment Community and Gold Sponsor for All Americans.

Artisan Hill Apartment Community

Artisan Hill collage

Artisan Hill photos by Chris Cunningham

Pride month activities in Carytown

Carytown Pride

Lots going on as the Carytown Merchants Association celebrates Pride Month. On Saturday, June 29th, a mini-Pride Festival will take place in the space behind AlterNatives Boutique, 3320 West Cary Street.

There will be fun music, face painting, informational booths, entertainment and a parade! The activities begin at 1:00 P.M. with the parade stepping off at 1:30.

Many Carytown businesses are sporting Pride-themed windows and are collecting funds for Diversity Richmond. We will be there along with several other organizations. We hope you will, too.


Mongrel rallies for our community ... again

Mongrel staff

Mongrel is donating 10% of their Saturday, June 29th sales to Diversity Richmond!

Mongrel Logo

When Mongrel was founded in 1991 as “Cards, Cards, Cards,” the business was one the first openly-gay owned establishments in Carytown. Since that time the store has supported countless LGBT projects such as the OutRVA campaign coordinated by Richmond Region Tourism, in an effort to promote Richmond as a welcoming, safe destination for LGBT travelers.

So it was not a surprise that Mongrel quickly jumped on board to support the Carytown Pride celebrations. The award-winning shop has become a Carytown mainstay. Whenever you’re in Mongrel, be prepared to laugh as the cards bring out the best in all of us. Unique gifts and Richmond-themed products abound. Visit

AlterNatives taking lead in Pride celebration

AlterNatives GuadalupeAlterNatives is an excellent example of what makes Carytown so special.

Locally owned, the store’s mission is based on the values of founder, Guadalupe Ramires who is working for social justice for Indigenous peoples. “In my culture, weaving is a sacred art. Many of our patterns are from a dream state. We dream the pattern and then we weave it.”

The store is bursting with color and is beautifully filled with ethically sourced weavings, clothing, jewelry and home decor. AlterNatives is also coordinating much of the Pride Festival that will be held on Saturday, June 29th in the parking lot behind their store. Located at 3117 West Cary, AlterNatives is a great place for the unique, meaningful gift for a friend or for oneself. Founder Guadalupe Ramirez’s vision is the basis of the AlterNative mission. Check out their web site AlterNativesBoutique.

AlterNatives Katherine

AlterNative employee Katherine Saint Clair Campbell loves Diversity Richmond and is excited about raising funds.

Bombshell big supporter of our community

Bombshell logo

I had seen the big pink building a million times, and knew it was a “hair place” called Bombshell, but that was about the extent of it. Boy, was I in for a surprise. It’s much, much more. It’s a place where we learn how to feel better about our bodies and just maybe fulfill a fantasy or two about things we’d always wanted to do, but were afraid to pursue. Fear no more, Bombshell is here.

From the moment one calls to make an appointment or to just explore the services offered, you are made comfortable. Are you a man (or woman) who has thought about having those eyebrows sculptured, a tanned body, unwanted hair removed or a waxing near those very personal areas to surprise a lover or to just enjoy yourself? The phone number is 342-0051. The rates are more than reasonable.

Drop by and explore. They will welcome you lovingly. Tell them Diversity Richmond sent you. Visit Bombshell.

Bombshell staff

The staff of Bombshell loves helping us love our bodies. They are donating sales proceeds of locally made skincare products to Diversity Richmond.

Chop Suey Books loves Diversity Richmond

Chop Suey Books

Seventeen years old, Chop Suey Books moved to Carytown a few years ago as did its huge following. The website says the store carries “gently used literature about art, photography, architecture, design, philosophy, poetry, film and the like.” The warm and friendly atmosphere welcomes visitors who love books or who need a special gift for someone who does. The store is located at 2913 West Cary Street, across from the Byrd.

Chop Suey Ward

Chop Suey owner Ward Tefft says, “Diversity Thrift is the only Richmond thrift that puts such a big percentage of sales back into the community.”

Thank you, Dr. Lisa Griffin

Lisa Griffin

Dr. Lisa Griffin is a well-known and respected clinical psychologist who works with gender-diverse children and their families at Pride Inside, a collective she founded, located in Carytown. Lisa has been instrumental in coordinating Carytown’s Pride celebrations. A more than well-known figure in our community, Lisa’s dedication has enabled countless numbers of children and their families to create a safe and healthy environment where both youth and parents are nurtured. Thank you, Lisa! 

Ladles and Linens Kitchen Shoppe


“It’s always a kitchen party and everyone’s invited”

Yet another example of why Carytown is loved. Founded 22 years ago as a small shop in Lexington, Ladles and Linens is now also located in Roanoke and Richmond. If you are into kitchens and/or cooking on any level, you must visit Ladles. The staff stays ahead of cooking, baking, bar and food trends and offers such a wide array of things we love. Those impossible to find gadgets or that wonderfully unique gift will be found here, we promise.

Don’t wait for the holidays to visit and when you are there, thank them for being such responsible corporate citizens. Located at 3016 West Cary, check out their website.

Ladles and Linens staff

Store manager, Rachel, obviously loves her work at Ladles. Great customer service is the norm.

Ladle watermelons

Lex’s of Carytown is one-stop shopping

Lexs of Carytown storefront

If you are in need of formal a dress, look no further. Not only does Lex’s carry some of the most prestigious labels such as Abby Paris, Jovani and Sherri Hill, the store also offers a wide selection of jewelry, accessories and shoes. Don’t let the store renovation fool you as Lex’s offers a wide selection. Located at 3020 West Cary, the staff is welcoming and anxious to help the bride, mother of the bride or wedding attendants. Prom dresses a specialty.

Lex's staff

Lex’s employees Sidnee and Grace are excited to raise funds for Diversity Richmond.

Sugar and Twine, where caffeine and deliciousness meet

Sugar And Twine

Their website says that “We believe that your caffeine fix should come with a side of deliciousness.” And it does. Their selections of pastries “made by hand” every morning not only look like delectable items in a gourmet baking book, they taste as good as they appear. While recently sharing a couple of delicacies, we found ourselves moaning as we ate. It’s that good. Located at 2428 West Cary, dairy free and gluten free options are also available as well as sandwiches filled with the freshest ingredients. Look at their goodies online.

Suger And Twine staff

The Sugar and Twine staff loves helping us raise much needed funds.

Richmond LGBTQ Chamber sponsors Job Fair

Richmond LGBTQ Chamber

The Richmond LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a week of events in June designed to help LGBTQ people locate jobs. Dressing for success, interview skills, enhancing resumes will be discussed during the week’s activities. A job fair will be held Wednesday, June 12th in the Diversity Richmond Event Hall.

More info here.

Meet your Richmond LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce


Well, actually they have been around for quite a while as the Richmond Business Alliance, but they just rebranded and are making big plans for our community. Chamber members (left to right above) Crystal Suber, Brian Boyce and Latasha Cosby were our recent guests on our monthly WRIR show, Diversity Richmond Speaks. Tune in on the link below and learn how the Chamber is making a huge difference in the local corporate scene.

Listen to the show