The Changing Face of West Main: News Stand, Union Station

getStaticImage-15This photo was taken in the first week of September, 1934.  It shows a news stand in Union Station on West Main Street, Charlottesville.

IMG_4769Today, the building houses a restaurant and bar, with the railroad station (Amtrak) in the attached building.


We were able to pinpoint the date of the photograph by the cover of the Time Magazine on display on the left side of the news stand.

Photograph by Ralph Holsinger, courtesy UVA Library

C’ville, Then & Now: Ridge Street House

205Ridge Street              This late 19th Century Queen Anne style house sat on Ridge Street until the late 1950s when the Fire Department built their new Fire Station on this location.

DSC_2764This fire station replaced the older firehouse just a few blocks away on Water Street that had served the community since the days of horse-drawn fire wagons.

While many of the houses along Ridge Street have been lost over the last 130 years it is still one of the better places in Charlottesville to see some of the Victorian houses that were once homes to many of Charlottesville’s prominent families and business owners. Today, Ridge Street turns directly into 5th Street going south so you need to make a jog near Tonsler Park to continue on Ridge and see some of the old houses still there.

DSC_4067One structure recently lost to new construction was this one that sat on the corner of Ridge and Hartman’s Mill Road.

At our October slideshow we featured a number of old photographs of the Water Street Firehouse including the demolition (circa 1960) documented by Ed Roseberry. We hope to form that story into a post on this website in the near future.

For more “Charlottesville Then and Now” check out the archives on our original site.

Downtown Mystery Revisited

img587-1024x1005A few weeks ago I posted this photograph from Ed Roseberry taken in the early 50s (we think). Ed had captured this shot by climbing a ladder to the roof of this building. He ran into these kids who were also up there but never got their names.

getStaticImage-10Last evening I was chatting with Ed and a few other long-time Charlottesville residents about the long building at the right side of this aerial photo taken around the same era. Ed recalled that it was on this long building that he had seen the boys. As is evident in Ed’s photo the building was either getting a new roof or being demolished. Whatever the case, it is now long gone.

getStaticImage-10 - Version 2This close-up shows enough detail to confirm that this is the building that the boys were climbing on.  The cornice of the brick building that is adjacent is visible, as is the Gilmore Furniture building across Water Street.

But the mystery remains: What was this building, built at an angle to Water Street with sidetracks from the railroad all along the south side?  And who were those young men, surely in their 70s by now?




June 25, 1953

img416 - Version 2Finishing up the program for tomorrow night, I began studying the detail in this photo from Ed Roseberry taken on June 25, 1953. In this photo, the Charlottesville Fire Department is tending to the aftermath of a fire that destroyed the Hoff Motor Company on East Main Street. A Richmond newspaper reported flames leaping 200 feet in the air and citizens watching the blaze from the Belmont Bridge had to move because of the intense heat.

img416 - Version 2One thing that caught my eye was the small sign on the right that reads The Nook. It is in the location of current day Java-Java, a block away from where The Nook is today. A city directory confirms that the Nook location was the Club Cafe as late as 1955 but by the end of the decade The Nook would replace it and still holds the same spot today.

A couple of doors down from The Nook is a night club by the name of Tin Rin.  The building across Main Street (seen in the top photo) was saved from the massive blaze next door and looks pretty much the same today. It is the current location of the Discovery Museum. Also note in the photo that the firetruck door bears an image of Monticello.


The Changing Face of West Main Street: Introduction

22090005Over the next few months C’ville Images will be featuring a series of posts on West Main Street in Charlottesville. The image above shows the section of town at the top of Vinegar Hill known as “Midway.” The Lewis and Clark monument seen in the picture has stood there for nearly a century while dramatic changes have occurred around it.

IMG_8125While technically West Main Street starts at First Street (seen above) on the Downtown Mall, our area of focus in the series will be from Midway to The Corner at UVA.

Holsinger West MainSince the turn of the 20th Century this stretch of real estate has evolved from a hotel district to Charlottesville’s Motor mile, and is currently shifting back to hotels and some residential use.

duck_inn_1Through the decades, shopping, restaurants and entertainment have dotted this corridor, but it has had its share of grim years.

_DSC7978The series will show both old and current photographs of this vital, but ever-changing, part of Charlottesville.

For all previous posts on West Main Street search “West Main” at the top of this page. Find even more in our “Charlottesville Then and Now” archives.

 Black and White photo by Rufus Holsinger courtesy Special Collections, UVA Library. Black and White photo of The Duck Inn by Duncan Brown and used with permission.        All other images from the collection at CHIL.

October’s Rare and Remarkable Photographs

Our “Rare and Remarkable Photographs” series continues this Thursday at C’ville Coffee on Harris Street just off McIntire Road in Charlottesville.
As we have been doing for the last couple of shows, Thursday’s program will features a variety of photos and the stories behind them. They are all connected to Charlottesville and its history so you get to see some rarely seen images and learn about some of our town’s lesser-known past.
Included this month we will see photos of the Water Street Firehouse downtown which was demolished in the 1950s and a series of classic Charlottesville service stations from the 1930s and 40s.  We also will share some never-shown-before photographs of the historic visit to Charlottesville by President Roosevelt on June 10, 1940. These photos were taken by a local radiologist and amateur photographer and have just been found in a private collection and scanned for the first time by CHIL.
 testThe Daily Progress headlines just 2 days before FDR was expected in Charlottesville to give the commencement address at UVA.  The address would become the famous “hand that held the dagger” speech delivered at Memorial Gymnasium but would resonate around the world.

Mem GymFDR’s limo would pull up to the doors on the right. Newly discovered photographs of his visit to Charlottesville on that rainy June evening will be part of our program on Thursday, October 10th.

RedfieldsRRTracks_Winter_2013As if all that weren’t enough for our hour long program, we also have Dr. Dan Koller joining us to share some of the photographic images he has created. Referred to as “solar graphs” these are months-long exposures creating ghostly images of Charlottesville scenes while capturing the movement of the sun across the sky.  Dan will be on hand to discuss the process and share these truly remarkable images, including some six-month exposures taken from the roof of the historic Albemarle Hotel.

This is a one-time showing at 7 pm. this Thursday with a $5 admission to help support our work gathering and researching photographs.
Only one more program open to the public this season (November) but this one should not be missed!
Top image courtesy The Estate of Lionel Key. Daily Progress front page courtesy JMRL. Solar graph of RR. tracks at undisclosed location by Dan Koller.