Sammons Family Cemetery

Preservation Piedmont and other area groups are working with local authorities to determine what can be done to preserve the cemetery (and possibly the nearby home) that is in the proposed path of the Western By-Pass in Albemarle County.

This cemetery, was not identified in the original plans for the by-pass and for obvious reasons has drawn attention and concern.

The house, although in disrepair, still seems structurally sound and most likely dates to the mid-19th Century.

The gravestones are all in excellent condition all from the early 20th Century.  Researchers that have studied the site feel there may be additional unmarked graves at the location.

Here are a few images of the grave sites and house on the Sammons Family property:

DSC_3383 DSC_3390 DSC_3398 DSC_3391




Local historians believe that the Sammons Family were an integral part of the local African American community in this part of the county that grew out of the freed slaves from the Hydraulic Mills after emancipation.  More about this community can be found here.

This coming May, Preservation Week will focus on lost communities like the one surrounding Hydraulic Mills.

All images © Steve Trumbull and should not be reproduced without permission.


Mr. Holsinger’s Assistant

In response to a recent question posted on “Holsinger at 100”, I’ve done a little investigating…getStaticImage-7There are several photographs in the Holsinger Collection that we can be certain were not taken by Rufus Holsinger (besides the later images taken by his son, Ralph).  This one, for example, from a pageant on the Lawn at UVA in 1918 is credited to Rufus.

Holsingerdetail1918LawnBut looking closer at the image we can spot Mr. Holsinger, himself taking a photograph. So if we could determine what image Holsinger was taking at the moment we might find an answer…


getStaticImage-11This image, given the same date, appears to have been taken from the location Holsinger was standing.  It is an interesting photo of the pageant, albeit a bit crooked in its composition. In it, however we can see two figures up on the terrace to the left.


Holsinger Detail1918Rotunda With a closer look, we see a man operating a camera propped up on the balustrade pointed in the direction of Holsinger. While this gentleman is certainly not Ralph Holsinger who would later take over the family business but was much younger at the time, it is evidence that Rufus Holsinger employed other photographers to assist in the photo shoots.

Holsinger at 100: March 17, 1913

Holsinger editOxcartWestMain17Mar1913The first image in our series, “Holsinger at 100”, was taken by Rufus Holsinger exactly 100 years ago today. A personal favorite of mine since I saw it nearly twenty years ago, this photograph was taken on West Main Street in Charlottesville.  The man appears to be a farmer delivering goods to a local market.  His cart’s wheels are caked in mud.  Most of the streets and all of the outlining roads in Charlottesville were dirt back then.  Main Street was one exception, seen here paved in brick, with an electric trolley running along tracks in the middle of the street.

From my assessment of elements in the photograph and study of other images taken nearby, the farmer, cart, and ox are on the north side of West Main in the 700 block. This is  approximately the location of Mel’s Cafe today. (Holsinger’s studio was very nearby this location at the time).


Holsinger at 100

Holsinger self portrait 2

In this new feature on C’ville Images we will be selecting some outstanding photographs by Charlottesville photographer Rufus Holsinger from Special Collections at UVA Library.  The staff at Special Collections has done an amazing job cataloguing over 9000 Holsinger images (taken by Rufus and his son, Ralph).  The elder Holsinger’s career was going strong in the 1910s and with each photograph he meticulously recorded the date in a ledger that has been preserved by Special Collections staff.  In this series, we will feature images from Holsinger on the same date, exactly 100 years after Holsinger produced it.

Holsinger on LawnA rare image of Rufus Holsinger at work, documenting an event on the Lawn at the University of Virginia in the early Twentieth Century.

Both images courtesy Special Collections, UVA Library.


Sears, Roebuck, & Co.

Scan 52We recently showed an edit of this photograph from the Rinehart Collection at CHIL as a Mystery Photo for readers to guess it’s location.  I had hoped that the reflection of Tucker’s Tire Service in the window might be a clue. This Sears store sat on West Water Street. In the last couple of years this building was absorbed into a much larger building, now housing World Strides, along with some residential space.

Scan 73By the late 1950s Sears moved to a larger location with more parking, in the 1100 block of West Main Street.  This building is now owned by the University of Virginia and houses Stacey Hall (part of the UVA Health System).

Last Chance Texaco

DSC_3344The last hours of the Barracks Road Shell Station.

DSC_3374Clearing the way for a new island of shopping options.

IMG_6353From our count, looking through the old images here at CHIL, there have been at least nine different service stations in the short stretch along Emmet Street from Ivy Road to the 250 By-Pass.  Now there are none.

2012-10-21 20.26.31While it was most recently a Shell franchise, not long ago it was “Barracks Road Texaco.”


2012-10-21 20.31.43

IMG_6636More photos and history of this familiar C’ville landmark can be found on our sister site, Charlottesville Then and Now.


DSC_3262Tucked away off the east end of High Street in Charlottesville, this century-old house named “Riverdale” overlooks the Rivanna River at Freebridge.

DSC_3268The main part of the house is built with brick but features details made of concrete block like the quoins seen here. These rough-texture blocks were popular in the early Twentieth Century construction in Charlottesville. You can see this block used in several homes around town, almost all dating to the period 1900-20.

DSC_3266Riverdale was built for Minnie Barnes in 1912 as an addition to an older wood frame house.

getStaticImage-3There was not much on this end of High Street 100 years ago and it wouldn’t be until 1917 that the street was paved, by which time Ms. Barnes had sold the property to Aldretus Wilton Ward. The house is barely visible in the upper left of this photograph by Rufus Holsinger (Courtesy Special Collections, UVA Library).

An extended version of this story with many more historical images can be found on our sister site, Charlottesville Then and Now 

Mystery photo: #9

This image is from the Rinehart Collection at CHIL. It was taken in the 1950s somewhere in Charlottesville.  If you have a guess, enter in the “reply” section below. This is # 9 in a series, so check out the previously posted mystery pics.  Answers will be posted later this week.Scan 52