Holsinger At 100: April 15, 1913

getStaticImage-4 This portrait is of Miss Betty Booker, an opera-singer turned boarding house matron, who kept a house on University Avenue for students at UVA for several decades starting in the 1910s.  Rufus Holsinger took this photograph 100 years ago today, when Miss Booker was in her late thirties.  Miss Booker was one of several women who ran boarding houses near the University in the early Twentieth Century.  According to Emma Rathbone, writing in the University of Virginia Magazine, “these women played the part of house mother, adoptive parent and stern Victorian governess, infusing their boarders with the grace and manners of true Southern gentlemen”.

DSC_3549Convenient to grounds at UVA, Betty Booker’s boarding house can be seen here on the right from the north steps of the Rotunda. The house is currently the location of the Provost’s Office.

Holsinger photograph courtesy Special Collections, UVA Library. Photo of view from Rotunda steps by Steve Trumbull.

4 thoughts on “Holsinger At 100: April 15, 1913

  1. Interestingly, she never married. I remember her as stately, stern yet gentle. Bet, as we called her, built the house with her mother, Lucy Landonia Page Booker. Together they ran the Booker House until Lucy’s death in the 1940’s. Bet had a famed career as an opera singer in London – singing for King George, I believe. I don’t think her talent was as recognized here – although she did sing for UVA society. My mother told me Bet sang for my mother’s Venable elementary class (in the 1930’s), and Mom was embarrassed by her soprano range – not that rock n roll was in – but don’t think soprano singing was either to a 10-year old!

  2. Cary, Thank you for sharing your memories. It’s always great to hear the first hand accounts of local history and about memorable figures from Charlottesville. No doubt your great aunt’s house will be preserved for a long time.

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