President Coolidge

getStaticImage - Version 2This photograph from the Holsinger Collection at UVA shows President Calvin Coolidge visiting Charlottesville toward the end of his second term in office.

He is seen here, in November 1928, on the steps of the First Baptist Church, which sat on the corner of East Jefferson and Second St. (now Hon. Preston Coiner Street). The front entrance of the church was angled, facing Lee Park (though the church construction pre-dated the building of Lee Park by a couple of decades).

We believe the woman on the steps behind the President is the First Lady and the gentleman over Coolidge’s left shoulder is the Virginia Governor at the time, Harry Byrd (later also a U.S. Senator). Coolidge, a New Englander, was a Congregationalist. We are not sure what service or gathering was taking place but also seen here is Rev. George Petrie of Charlottesville Presbyterian Church (which stood a block away).

The info accompanying the image at Special Collections says “At University of Virginia” but  close examination of the steps, doorway and other architectural elements lead us to believe this is indeed the First Baptist Church on Jefferson St.  It would be destroyed by fire in 1977 as the congregation was building their new church (and current location) on Park St.

img161 img165Both of these dramatic images were taken by Ed Roseberry on the February night in 1977 when the church burned. A gorgeous infrared photo by Roseberry was taken from the belfry more than two decades before and can be seen in our recent “rare photographs” post.

Holsinger photo (accession #9862) courtesy Special Collections, UVA Library.

The Roseberry images are from digital scans done by Charlottesville Historical Image Library and are part of our Roseberry Collection at CHIL

Thanks to Sandra DeKay for identifying the Rev. George Petrie, adding to the interest and intrigue of the image.

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