As we head into the holidays we thought we would post a few vintage images of C’ville Christmas past. We will update this post occasionally over the next couple of weeks.
This is downtown Charlottesville, mid-20th Century, decorated for the holidays. This view looks east from Second and W. Main Street. The Young Men’s Shop seen on the right is now Christians Pizza on today’s Downtown Mall.
This one from nearly 100 years ago shows a selection of toys for sale at a shop downtown. The store was located in the Leterman Building near First and Main just to the right of where Miller’s is today. Interestingly, the country was at war at the time and contemporary soldiers and cannons are among the toys seen here. Photograph courtesy the Holsinger Collection in Special Collections at UVA Library.
This next seasonal photo show a Christmas tree and winter scene decorated with electric lights. Although strands of electric Christmas tree lights were invented in the late 19th Century and popularized in the 1910s, this photograph is more likely from the 1930s, taken by Ralph Holsinger. Courtesy Holsinger Collection, Special Collections, UVA Library
This photograph, taken on Christmas Day, 1916, shows the local Salvation Army with Christmas baskets prepared for needy families. This particular Christmas was probably less than joyous as the country was in the middle of the Great War which produced many orphans and widows back home. The location is uncertain but was most likely in Downtown Charlottesville; we know the local Salvation Army Hall in the early 20th Century was located about where the Omni Hotel sits today. Courtesy Holsinger Collection, Special Collections, UVA Library
This stunning winter scene, taken 100 years ago, shows the north side of the Rotunda at UVA as seen from the steps of Madison Hall looking across University Avenue. It was taken by Rufus Holsinger who would sometimes scratch his initials on the glass plate negative. Click on this image for a larger view and you’ll be able to spot “© RWH” in the snow just beyond the wall along the street. Courtesy Holsinger Collection, Special Collections, UVA Library
This photograph, taken by Ed Roseberry just after the holidays in January of 1960, is a color image of the view from the Monticello Hotel looking northwest over Court Square. The statue of Stonewall Jackson on his horse can be seen in the foreground. On the corner of Fourth and East High Streets (just below the center of the photo), the groundbreaking has begun on what will become the Charlottesville Circuit Court. The Altamont Apartments can be seen a few blocks away in the upper left.
This classic photograph from Ed Roseberry was taken in December of 1959 and captures that era in the late 1950s. Eisenhower was winding down his second term in the White House. The Paramount was still showing films, Main Street was open to car traffic, and “Urban Renewal” had yet to take Vinegar Hill. Although Barracks Road Shopping Center had just opened on Emmet Street, Downtown Charlottesville was still the place for Christmas shopping and holiday festivities. This photograph is available for purchase through our “Roseberry Collection”.
Another photograph from Roseberry from the early 1960s. Again, Ed is shooting from the roof of the Monticello Hotel, this time looking southeast, toward Belmont. The newly built Belmont bridge is seen here and Montalto is visible in the upper left.
This E. Main Street store front was decorated for the holidays 60 years ago. The shop sold women’s apparel back then and today is the location of Angelo, a jewelry store (and currently housing an art exhibit of local artist, Michael Fitts). According to the City Directory the store was “Helen Eastham” circa 1950 and The Colonnade Shop by 1955. The building seen reflected in the window was across the street and Second and Main, NE and was destroyed by fire in 1973. This photo comes to us courtesy The Daily Progress.
The same women’s clothing store seen again here was in the 200 Block of East Main a few doors down from Standard Drug and next door to Kaufman’s (a men’s clothing store) part of which can be seen to the left of this photo. Keller & George was also in the same block. These Christmas shoppers in December 1954 were limited to downtown shopping since there were no malls or significant shopping centers anywhere else in Charlottesville. Barracks Road Shopping Center wouldn’t be built for another 5 years. Courtesy Daily Progress
This interior scene of Kaufman’s from the time shows Christmas shoppers purchasing gifts. Today, the building is the downtown branch of Virginia National Bank. This location has also been Lee’s Hallmark and Williams Corner Bookstore over the years.
This photo looking west on Main Street from about where the Paramount is shows a bustling Main Street at the holidays in the 1950s. The buildings look familiar today but most of the businesses have changed. This was THE place to do your Christmas shopping with stores like Robinson’s, Legget’s, and Sears. While you were downtown you could stop in for a bite to eat at the Candy Kitchen or take in a movie at one of the three movie theaters on Main Street that were open at this time. Courtesy Daily Progress.
Another photo from the 1950s. It was a Christmastime tradition in Charlottesville during this era to have a Nativity scene set up in Lee Park. In this creche, the animals are real while the human figures are not. In the distance to the right, you can spot the historic home once called “Social Hall”. Just behind the manger, the steeple from the First United Methodist Church lines up closely with the star mounted on the manger.
This wider angle show the Nativity scene in context in Lee Park. Ed Roseberry took this one from the Charlottesville National Bank building in the 1950s. The First Baptist Church on the corner of Second and Jefferson Streets, NE was still standing at the time but would be destroyed by fire in 1977. Note that the traffic flowed north on Second Street instead of one-way, south as it does today. This part of Second Street is now known as Preston Coiner Street in honor of a great citizen who helped tremendously to preserve local history.
For this next photo, we’re going back at least 118 years to this view of the Rotunda at UVA. Possibly one of the earliest images of Jefferson’s Academical Village in a snowy setting, this photograph pre-dates the Rotunda fire of 1895.
Not nearly as old, but a cool vintage image nevertheless, this photograph was taken by law student, James Crewdson in the winter of 1949-50. The older model car makes the photo seem even earlier. The building we see here is Madison Hall on University Avenue. Mr. Crewdson took a number of fascinating photos around the grounds at the University and we are pleased to have added them to our collection here at C’ville Images through the thoughtful contribution of his granddaughter.