Windows on West Main

As we begin to plan for 2014, we will be looking at the changing face of West Main Street for many upcoming posts, discussions, and quite likely, a slideshow at C’ville Coffee.  We’ve begun to pull together the images in our photo library of this part of town and we now have hundreds of photos, some dating back many decades.

For now though, I’ve assembled this small selection of my own photos.  These are of windows along West Main Street from recent times.  A photo essay of sorts…

DSC_0823A photo of a window of photos.

_DSC5329New windows rising on West Main.

DSC_4149These windows are on their way out.

_DSC7417A few angles and layers to sort through on this one.

IMG_8001 This window scene has many layers but also a repeating theme of… forearms.

IMG_7985 Old building, new window openings.

DSC_0825Good color and detail here. A former appliance store, now middle eastern deli, and the reflection of a former car dealership, now a gourmet food market.

West Main #1 Gone.

DSC_3987 Glass blocks from warehouse built in the 1930s.

_DSC7414  Lines.

DSC_4000Inside looking out.

_DSC4500Vintage show room just north of West Main. And the inevitable self-portrait, photographing all that glass.

C’ville Images Bookstore Now Open

_DSC9102For some great selections of books on local history, photography, and other related interests, checkout C’ville Images bookstore by clicking on the “Bookstore” link in the navigation bar. You’ll get great savings on books through your account and support C’ville Images at the same time.

In fact, anything you buy on helps us, but only if you get to your account through our link. Nothing else is different than if you shop on Amazon directly. Prices, shipping, and tax are exactly the same but C’ville Images gets a small contribution if you use our link.

It’s a minor extra step from your computer but that effort helps to keep us working to find and digitize and feature even more C’ville images.

Thank you!

Vintage DTM

We are excited to announce another way we will be showing some cool, old photographs of Charlottesville. Starting immediately, C’ville Images will have a weekly feature on DTM, a great local website and valuable resource for news and information about Charlottesville’s Downtown Pedestrian Mall.

Our weekly feature will present vintage images of downtown Charlottesville, Main Street, and adjacent blocks- today’s Downtown Mall.  We will have photos from the early days of the brick-paved pedestrian mall, mid-20th Century photos when it was a drivable Main Street, and some very old photos when downtown had an electric trolley and horse traffic. Check out the first installment of “Vintage DTM”

DTM is produced by local journalist and reporter, Dave McNair, and has quickly become the source to keep up with what’s happening in Downtown C’ville.

IMG_9545This aerial view shows the East Main Street portion of the DTM, from First and Main to the Intelos Wireless Pavilion.


img807In 1958, then Senator Kennedy spoke at the University of Virginia.  His younger brother, Edward was attending Law School at the time and brother Robert and wife Jackie were also in attendance, perhaps the only time the three brothers were in Charlottesville together. Senator John F. Kennedy was introduced at the UVA speech as “the next President of the United States.” President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, fifty years ago today.

This photograph was reproduced from a local Chamber of Commerce publication that is no longer in print.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in C’ville

On the occasion of their 66th wedding anniversary C’ville Images thought we might bring back a photograph from the visit to Charlottesville of Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip.

50170012 This classic photo by Ed Roseberry shows the Queen and Prince touring Monticello in the summer of 1976.  In the years since, they have been back to Virginia, but not to Charlottesville.

IMG_3280 Perhaps little remembered today, the Queen and her husband planted this tree in Charlottesville near the old visitors center off Rt. 20 just south of town.

IMG_3273The impressive tree, though rarely visited anymore, still stands today.

1399134_260550904097720_252182991_o - Version 21399134_260550904097720_252182991_o

These two photos come from the Facebook page of The British Monarchy Heir and show a Then and Now pair of images we thought were perfect to include here on their 66th wedding anniversary.


2013 C’ville Coffee Shows

photo copy 2We’ve concluded our series of photo presentations at C’ville Coffee for the 2013 season. Our final show had a packed house viewing a wide range of C’ville images ranging from downtown history and UVA rarities to historic landmarks and famous people. Thanks to everyone who turned out and to all the supporters that made these shows a lot of fun all year long.  We couldn’t do it without the contributions of photographs from the private collections of Charlottesville businesses, families and individuals.  If you have something you’d like to let us scan for future shows and projects, please email  Steve Trumbull, anytime.

img794This photograph of the Midway High School football team from 1923 was one of over 100 photographs shown at our season finale. (Courtesy Johnson Family collection, digitized and edited by C’ville Images)

Roseberry VarsityEd Roseberry and friends, photographed for the September, 1947 issue of Varsity Magazine for an article on fashion tips for college men. This photo was taken near The Corner on University Avenue.

We also presented photographs of FDR’s limousine at Mem Gym, a train carrying historic documents from the National Archives at Union Station on West Main, and several previously unseen photographs of Main Street and the Downtown Mall.

All of the programs we produced this year are available for hire as a private viewing for your family, club meeting, or other gathering.  Very reasonable rates.  Contact us for more info.

Thanks again to our supporters for a successful 2013.  We are already at work planning projects for the year ahead!

Photo from last Thursday’s presentation by Karyn Trumbull

Tonight’s Show

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Tonight’s show at C’ville Coffee will feature photographs spanning the last 150 years in Charlottesville with the largest concentration of images running from the 1910s to the 1980s, a period of phenomenal change in C’ville and in the world. These dates correspond directly with my grandfather’s life (1913-1989). This photo shows him at age 18 around the time he left his home in Pittsburg, Kansas to work for the Civilian Conservation Corps in Minnesota during the Great Depression. He would eventually find his way East and take a job with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, DC. He would live his 75 years witnessing some of the most remarkable changes in this county’s history, many of which are reflected in the photographs we’ve selected for this evening. I am dedicating tonight’s program to him. He would have turned 100 today.


Margaret Lewis, 1914

The following piece was contributed to C’ville Images by Jane C. Smith.  Jane is a member of the Central Virginia History Researchers.

“Everything within their range of vision . . .”

HolsingerShepherdThose of you who attended Steve’s September presentation might remember that he showed a photograph of a baby, dressed all in white, with an embroidered and beribboned cap and gown and crocheted blanket. Holding the baby and gazing at him through her spectacles with an enigmatic smile was an elderly African American woman wearing a plain black jacket and a white ruffled cap. It was a Holsinger photograph dated March 26, 1914, and the Holsinger Studio ledger indicated that the photograph was taken for a “Mrs. Shepherd”.

When Steve showed us the photograph there was some discussion. Steve has a friend who is a descendant of that same Shepherd family, and Steve said they were talking with the family about who the baby might be. I longed to know more about the woman holding the baby, but realized it was unlikely that I would ever even discover her name. The story behind that fascinating smile would probably remain forever a mystery.

These last few months I’ve been scouring the recently digitized old issues of the Daily Progress for stories and obituaries from the African American community of Charlottesville. There was precious little published there, but every once in a while I find priceless details from the past. I began with 1910 and have been working my way through the years, day by day. On the Tuesday following Steve’s show I had made my way up to 1915 and was looking at the issue of February 27, 1915. There, on page one, was an obituary for an African American woman named Margaret Lewis. The name immediately caught my attention.

There was a very special woman named Margaret Lewis, a woman of importance in the history of this town. I had read stories about her in articles by local historian Gayle Schulman, and in the writings of Philena Carkin, who was one of the first teachers at the Charlottesville Freedmen’s School. Margaret and her husband Paul Lewis worked at the Freedmen’s School in its earliest days, just after the Civil War.

As I began to read the obituary, the very first sentence set my heart racing: “Margaret Lewis, an old-time colored nurse, died at 10:30 this morning at the residence of Mr. John E. Shepherd, on the Rugby Road . . .”  Could it be possible that the very same Margaret Lewis I had admired for her work with the Charlottesville Freedmen’s School in 1867 was the woman holding the baby in the 1914 photo Steve showed us?


As I continued to read, each detail of the obituary – Margaret’s advanced age, the large number of children she’d had, the death of her husband years earlier – all these facts fit with the details of the life of Margaret Lewis of the Freedmen’s School.

Still not quite certain, I returned to the memoirs of Philena Carkin, Margaret’s contemporary, and found the evidence I needed in her description of Margaret: “quick bright, alert, and humorous” with “clear brown eyes that took note of everything within their range of vision.” I looked once again at the Holsinger photograph, and the expression of the woman in the photograph convinced me.  She is Margaret Lewis.


getStaticImage-13 3This photograph by Rufus Holsinger shows a Shepherd family home on University Circle where we believe the photograph was taken of Margaret Lewis holding the baby. This house still stands today.

Shepli Park 2This photograph shows the Shepherd property known as “Shepli Park” where Margaret Lewis died in 1915. The house, designed by local architect Eugene Bradbury, sat on the corner of Rugby and Oxford Roads.  It was destroyed by fire in 1921.


Philena Carkin (pictured above) wrote a long affectionate tribute to Margaret in her memoirs, Reminiscences of my Life and Work among the Freedmen of Charlottesville Virginia, From March 1st 1866 to July 1st 1875.   I’ve quoted most of her description below, along with a link to the entire volume, which is available online as part of the UVa Text Collection.  [These reminiscences were possibly written as late as 1910]

“Margaret Lewis was the wife of one of the teachers in the Primary department of our school – Paul Lewis – and as unlike her husband as it was possible for two persons to be. While he was slow and ponderous, both in intellect and manner, she was quick bright, alert, and humorous. 

“She was a handsome woman, slightly dark for a quadroon, tall, straight and lithe, with good regular features and a pair of clear brown eyes that took note of everything within their range of vision. She was our servant for several years, and was most faithful and devoted to us. She was of great assistance to us in ways outside her domestic duties, on account of her knowledge of the characters and needs of the people with whom we had to deal.

“Every year there were boxes and barrels of clothing sent to us from the north, for us to distribute among the most needy colored people, and we always took counsel with Margaret who seemed nearly always to know just where any certain article was most needed. We felt we could trust both her judgment and conscience in this matter, for she carefully avoided asking favors for those of her own kin until others had been provided for. 

“. . . But perhaps nothing endeared her more to Miss Gardner and myself than the fact that she always had some amusing story or anecdote to relate, which, told in her own inimitable manner never failed to provoke our laughter. She never gave herself up to malicious gossip, but the queer speech, and actions of the many queer people with whom she came in contact furnished her with an inexhaustible supply of material to feed her sense of humor. Her life was far from being an easy one, with her husband, and four or five little children to care for, besides doing a good deal of work for us, but she made light of ordinary troubles, and performed her duties cheerfully in spite of them. Her gift for seeing the comical side of things in general, probably helped her over many rough places. After we left Charlottesville some very tragic circumstances shadowed her life, and I have often wondered if the cheerful spirit that had upborne her through so many minor troubles, was sufficient to carry her serenely through those that must have been so much harder to bear. I hope and trust it proved to be so. She was only one more example of a bright spirit forced to grovel in the mire of unkind circumstance. If living now she must be quite old — more than seventy five, and her children are middle aged men and women. They have had very good educational advantages some of them having been to the Hampton School for a longer or shorter period of time. None of them could compare with her in looks, when they were little children, and I doubt if any of them are as observing and quick witted as she was. I hope they give her good care, and make her declining years comfortable and happy in return for the efforts she made to educate them and give them a fair start in life.”

“In a recent letter from Rives Minor I have learned that Margaret Lewis is now alone in the world, her husband Paul Lewis and all her children having passed away. Paul had become the owner of a home before I left Charlottesville, but I doubt if he had much other property so I fear her last years are to be not only lonely, but years of poverty as well. She truly deserved better of Fate.”

Lest the passages above leave you with the wrong impression of Margaret’s husband Paul, I include below a link to another of Philena’s manuscripts, which contains a better description of him:

“In February 1867 a colored man Paul Lewis , who like Mrs. Gibbons, was one of Miss Gardners pupils was placed in charge of another school of the same grade as that of Mrs. Gibbons. Both of these teachers were given positions with the understanding that they should continue their studies while teaching. Paul Lewis was a slave of Hon. Alexander Rives. His mother was the nurse of Mr. Rives children. He was wholly unlike Mrs. Gibbons who was very quick and bright. Paul was slow, but deep. He made a good teacher, adopting Miss Gardners methods of instruction, and drilling his pupils very thoroughly. He continued in the work for a year or two after I left, and then owing to some trouble he had with a white resident, he lost his position as teacher, and resumed his old trade of shoe making.”

-from Philena Carkin’s Reminiscences of my Life and Work among the Freedmen of Charlottesville, Virginia, from March 1st 1866 to July 1st 1875, pages 56-60, 106, 76

Holsinger photographs courtesy Special Collections, UVA Library. Shepli Park photo courtesy Daniel Bluestone.

Jane C. Smith’s research is focused on John Gibbons Shelton (1862-1952), principal of the Albemarle Training School from 1903 to 1930 and editor and manager of the Charlottesville Messenger from 1911 to 1928. Since his was the community’s only African American newspaper during that time, and there is only one known remaining copy of a single issue, Jane has turned to the Daily Progress as a local news source for African American stories from early twentieth century Charlottesville.



Last Show of the Season

This Thursday, November 14th, we will have our last slideshow of the season at C’ville Coffee. We have had great turn-outs for these events all year and this should be one of the best.  It will be the fourth and final show of our “Rare and Remarkable Photographs” series.  This series has featured some of the best images from our collection along with fascinating vintage Charlottesville photographs we have found elsewhere.

21460020This last show will feature photos from the past 120 years or so, including the construction of some of Charlottesville’s most prominent landmarks, rare photos from around the University, street scenes from 100 years ago, and photos like this one of the early days of the Downtown Pedestrian Mall.

Join us Thursday evening at 7 pm. at C’ville Coffee on Harris Street (off McIntire Road).  $5 at the door helps support our work digitizing vintage C’ville images.

Midway, November 11, 1918

getStaticImage-13The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month…with the ending of fighting in the Great War declared in November of 1918, this celebration took place in Charlottesville at Midway (where Ridge and West Main Streets meet). The large building seen here was a public school at the time. None of the buildings in this photograph still stand. The Lewis and Clark Monument would be dedicated the following year. “Armistice Day” would become “Veterans Day” in 1954.

getStaticImage-13 2This second photograph of the same gathering shows a large group of soldiers being honored by the citizens of Charlottesville.

22090005The public school was known as Midway School and served all grades (although only white students) at the time.  It would later become the high school that predated Lane High School which predated Charlottesville High School.  After Lane was built in 1940 this building would be used for various local government services including the health department and motor vehicles department.  It was demolished in 1972.

IMG_4152This current day view shows the general area of the 1918 celebration.  Holsinger took his photos from the brick building seen here which was the the offices for the Charlottesville & Albemarle Railway at the time. The church to the left also stood at that time.

_DSC5372The Lewis and Clark Monument at Midway in the current day.


Black and White Photographs by Rufus Holsinger, courtesy Special Collections, UVA Library, University of Virginia. Current day images by Steve Trumbull. The Midway School photo is from our collection but is undated and the photographer is not known.