Modern Taste for Baked Bread, Nolde Brothers Inc., Norfolk, Virginia
A German-American immigrant, John Henry Nolde (1867-?) officially began baking “his own” bread in Richmond, Virginia in 1892 at 25 years of age when he founded Nolde’s Bread or what would become Nolde Brothers Inc.. As was often the case, the young, single 32 year old entrepreneur and baker was still living with his 50 year old widowed mother (Matilda F. Nolde) in 1900 at 2510 E. Broad Street, in Richmond. It was in the basement of this house where the bread business would unofficially begin. At the time, this part of Broad Street was an ordinary working-lower middle class neighborhood with a mixed immigrant population. Nolde’s younger brothers August and George baked with him. And it is rumored that at least one of the Noldes apprenticed at the Moesta Bakery formerly of 111 East Main Street in Richmond. The Noldes had migrated into America from Germany in 1880 and were later naturalized in 1889.
Between 1900 and 1910 Nolde (and his brothers) managed to dramatically change his situation in life. By 1910, he was no longer residing in E. Broad Street with his mother, but, instead, in a large second empire style end townhouse at No. 1 North 29th Street with the principal view of the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Memorial at the demarcation of Libby Hill and the Church Hill neighborhood. He was no longer single. He was married to a first generation German-American with whom he had produced five children. The other brothers had experienced similar transformations and it was probably John Nolde who led the pack, as is often the case with the oldest child. Also in residence at No. 1 North 29th Street were two of the Nolde sisters Elise C. Spatt and Annie E. Nolde who both worked in the Bakery of which their brother(s) was the “proprietor”. It was a family affair.
Incorporation of the business took place in 1908 and continued to grow thereafter to the point that operations were being conducted not only in Richmond, but also in Norfolk and Petersburg. The building shown above is a very unusual “modern” example in its inclusion of the company name in the block script brick lettering along the roof line of the building. The style of the building includes elements indicative of the Art Deco, Art Modern, and the mid-century Streamline Modern styles, indicating that it was probably built in the 1940s to 1950s. The color of the brick is also a mid-century indicator. This particular building is now used as the Marine Support Facility for Old Dominion University as the Nolde Brothers Inc. sold out in the 1970s.
Due to extant ”built” signage present in the industrial building, Nolde Brothers Inc. continues to have a presence in Norfolk even 40 years later.