Preston Coiner Scholarship

IMG_1321Anyone who knew Preston Coiner knew of his passion for history which was seen in his unparalleled commitment to promoting knowledge in local architecture, local legends, and the historical tradition of Charlottesville.  Whenever he had a spare moment to chat with friend or stranger about C’ville’s rich history, he would not hesitate to find (and entertain) an audience.

Preston’s dedication to history and education will now continue indefinitely with a generous new scholarship fund established by his wife Julie and the Coiner family in his name. Part of Charlottesville’s Scholarship Program, the Preston Coiner Scholarship is an award offering financial support to aspiring college students with an interest in studying history.

The new scholarship was announced this past Saturday at an event at the historic Paramount Theater in downtown Charlottesville.


19th Century Churches

Many of the church buildings constructed in the 1800s and early 1900s in Charlottesville no longer stand.  For a variety of reasons many of these magnificent buildings have been demolished.

img471Some were lost to fire like the First Baptist Church (built in 1904 and seen here in a postcard image from the period) on the corner of East Jefferson and Second St. which burned in 1977.  Other congregations left the downtown area to gain more parking and simply tore down the old church like the architecturally detailed Presbyterian Church building that sat on Second and E. Market for barely 50 years.

Which brings up the question of what church buildings remain from this era and specifically which of those still standing existed before 1900.  I brought up this question recently at our October slideshow as former mayor Dave Norris shared some of the postcard images of churches from his collection. The audience named a handful that I will highlight in this post.  One of the great things about our C’ville Images photo presentations is that our audience is made up of local historians, photographers, architectural historians, writers, and researchers, and many folks generally knowledgable in C’ville history.  I bring the photos to share but there is never a show that I don’t learn something valuable from the attendees.  This month, it was about these 19th Century Churches.

That said, if there is any 1800s church building still standing in Charlottesville that is missing from the following list please contact me. For this post we’re looking at the city of Charlottesville and not the surrounding county.

Two of the latest churches from the 19th Century were built in 1898.

img473The first of these was Christ Episcopal Church although construction and additions continued into the 20th Century and the building still does not contain some of the elements from the original plans. This building stands on the corner of High and Second Streets, NW, on the same lot that the earlier Episcopal Church was built.

Christ Church 1This current day look at Christ Church, as it is commonly known, shows the bell tower on the right that was added later.

IMG_8352This is a view of the carillon inside the bell tower.

img472The other Charlottesville church building that dates to 1898 was the Disciples of Christ Church on Market St.  This structure was also built on the same lot of the congregation’s prior building. Today it houses The Haven, a resource center for the homeless.

The Woolen Mills Chapel is also included on this list having been built, according to our research, in 1887.

The two oldest church buildings in Charlottesville were built by African American congregations.

Mt. Zion Church RidgeMt. Zion First African Baptist Church on Ridge Street dates to 1884 although there is some indication it wasn’t completed until the 1890s.  The congregation has since moved a few blocks away to the corner of Lankford Avenue and First Street, SW., but the the 19th Century building still stands.

First Baptist West MainFinally, we have the First Baptist Church on West Main built on the site of the old Delevan Hotel where the congregation first held services, construction on this church was started in 1877 and completed by 1883 and dedicated on January 2, 1884. This section of town between downtown and the University has seen some of the most dramatic changes in Charlottesville over the past century and First Baptist Church has remained in place through it all.

First BaptistThis is a current day interior view of First Baptist Church on West Main.

There are two other houses of worships that might technically make this list.  The Ebenezer Baptist Church, another predominately African-American church on 6th Street at the end of Commerce St., supposedly was first built in the 1890s. When the Jefferson Auditorium burned next door on Thanksgiving in 1907, the church was badly damaged and had to be rebuilt over the next year.

We might also include the Jewish synagogue on this list.  The Beth Israel temple was built at the end of the 19th century on the corner of Second and Market Street, NE.  When the federal government decided in 1904 that they wanted the location for a courthouse and post office, the congregation moved the building, supposedly “brick-by-brick,” and reassembled it on East Jefferson Street where it now stands. There are no known photos of the synagogue on Second Street to confirm if the building looked the same as it does today.

Vintage postcard images are from the Norris Collection at C’ville Images.  Current day photos by Steve Trumbull.  Thanks to Edwina St. Rose, Jane Myers, Sandy DeKay, Bill Emory, and Melinda Frierson for helping compile this list and dates.



Norris Collection: First & Main

img479The 100 block of East Main Street, looking west toward the intersection of First and Main Streets. This image is from a postcard from more than a century ago. Note the building with columns on the left. A bank at the time, that location has been the Jefferson Theater for more than 100 years. The postcards of this era were created from black and white photographs that were colorized, giving them an almost cartoon look to today’s viewer. However, back then the color images were striking, making postcards favorite souvenirs and collectors’ items. Postcards were also a great way to send short messages relatively quickly, much the way we might use texts or emails today.

_DSC7364This is the current day view.

img484This next image, also from a postcard of the same period as the first one, shows the view looking toward First and Main, though this time from the west.  We see the Leterman Company Building on the left and the Perley Building on the right.  In the distance we again see the bank that would become the Jefferson Theater in 1912 and also in the far distance we can spot the tower (bell tower?) that was on the Charlottesville Hardware Store prior to 1909.

_DSC7359Today’s view is largely obscured by the trees but note the Leterman building on the left with a reconfiguring of the windows (the four middle bays now only two) when the building on the corner of First and Main (now Hamilton’s) was built circa 1914.

img476Another postcard view of the The Leterman Company at First and Main.  Leterman’s was a department store with reportedly 50,000 square feet of floor space.  A 1906 promotion of the establishment read, “Aside from apparel, they have complete assortment of carpets, mattings, oilcloths, notions, toilet articles, fancy goods, etc.”  The awning out front, seen in this image, boasted simply “The Big Store.”

img480This next postcard was produced from the original black and white negative and not colorized. The view looks east on Main Street from the base of Vinegar Hill, the west end of today’s downtown mall, just two blocks from First and Main. Many of the buildings seen in this view are still preserved today.  The brick building at the left with the three windows on the second story is the Mudhouse coffee shop today. The building in the distance with the ornamental dome is the aforementioned Leterman Building.  Interestingly, Main Street was first paved with bricks (as seen here). It was a dirt street prior to this.  Asphalt would come a few years later and then Main Street would return to bricks in the 1970s as the pedestrian mall we know today.  An electric trolley (also seen in this photo) ran down the street in the early 20th Century and continued  to the University.

_DSC7355This current day photo gives a close approximation of the same view. Again note the unpainted brick building on the left with the three windows. The trim window and brick detailing of the cornice is still intact a century later.

Postcard Images are from the Norris Collection at C’ville Images.
Current Day photos by Steve Trumbull © 2014

Parkway Project Update

By pass projectFor those of you who follow us from out of town, we thought we’d provide you with a photo-update on one of the big projects here in C’ville.  The Meadowcreek Parkway Interchange that is replacing the intersection of McIntire Road and the Rt. 250 By-pass is well on its way toward completion.

By pass 1The bridge that will keep traffic flowing east-west (instead of stopping at the light) is mostly in place.

By pass 2 This photo gives something of the view of crossing the bridge, going east.

By pass 4The view from the bridge looking north onto the Meadowcreek Parkway (this section of the parkway is not yet open).

by pass 5The view from the bridge looking south onto McIntire Road which is getting some major changes including new, easier access for the Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad.

by pass 3As part of the interchange project the Dogwood Vietnam Memorial is getting a major renovation and upgrade.

The entire interchange project is on schedule to be completed in the Summer of 2015.

All photos © C’ville Images, 2014



Greetings From C’ville

Our next show….



On Thursday, October 9th, 7 pm. at C’ville Coffee on Harris Street we will be presenting a wide selection of images from the Norris Collection, an extensive collection of postcards assembled by former C’ville mayor Dave Norris.  We are honored that C’ville Images is the recipient of this amazing collection and also thrilled to have Mr. Norris as a guest speaker.  Dave will join us on the 9th to narrate this showing of many of the highlights from his collection.
The show, “Greetings From C’ville,” promises some rare photographs and interesting bits of local history as seen through the images on these postcards, a large portion of which are more than a century old.
If you would like to attend, contact us and tell us your name and how many tickets you would like.  We will reply with instructions on how to purchase them. Tickets are $10.  The quantity is limited, so don’t delay!


Two Years

Preston Coiner mem. posterIt has been two years today since I lost a good friend, mentor, and frequent companion in my explorations of local C’ville architecture and history.

Preston Coiner was “retired” but you’d hardly have known it. He worked every day: on volunteer work in his community, on renovating old buildings, and on art and woodworking projects at home.  When his feet stopped moving and there was someone nearby to talk to, he could tell stories and share recollections for hours (no exaggeration) of the “old” Charlottesville where he grew up.

Preston spent his career in the junk business, salvaging metal from demolition projects and processing metal materials at his scrap metal business, Coiner’s, on the east side of town. Preston was a big man from his teen years on, with the strong hands of someone who never shied away from work. His stories often included experiences (adventures, even) in the junk business. The tales usually had a humorous twist or some significant tie-in to C’ville history.

He kept an office on East Market Street for years and in late 2011 moved it to a beautifully renovated building on High Street. He lived close enough to walk to and from the office. He was still hands-on with a lot of the renovation work, indeed it was an accident on an historic preservation project that led to his death in September 2012.

His stories were funny and clever but Preston often wove in a bit of wisdom or advice on working and living well. He never seemed to mind his humble background as a junk man without a college degree.  It kept him modest, certainly more modest than is typical of someone with even a fraction of the accomplishments Preston has had.  He was successful in business and turned that success into useful volunteer work and dedication to historic preservation, something his widow, Julie has continued with the 2012-14 renovation of the Young Building on Carlton Avenue. Preston loved to tell the stories but did not necessarily discuss his achievements.  It took many months of me asking before he revealed the impressive range of properties he had owned and restored.

Rarely does a day pass that I don’t think of something I wish I could ask Preston: “What was that building before?”  “When did they use that material?”  “Who lived here back then?”  As I have learned more about local history and done research at UVA and through other local resources, I want to share these new discoveries with Preston:  “Did you know that restaurant used to be here!”  “That was the same owner as the building three blocks over!”  “That family goes back to the early ninetieth century in Charlottesville!”  Tid-bits that might bore anyone else, but things that I know he would appreciate and store away, adding to his vast knowledge of his life-long hometown.

I miss our long walks on the downtown mall, sharing observations, and I miss driving the backstreets of town trying to piece together some architectural mystery.

But if I had just more more day, one more afternoon with Preston, I think I would just sit there on the front steps of his house in North Downtown and listen.

“Listen to your junk man…” –Bruce Springsteen from “New York City Serenade”

IMG_8472Preston’s office on High Street

IMG_5478The Coiner Residence

Sam with car058
Preston in his younger days

25th138Preston in the office at Coiner’s

EPSON MFP imageThe Charlottesville of Preston’s youth

More pics can be found in this post I did a year ago.

Color photos by Steve Trumbull. B&W images of Preston courtesy the Coiner Family. Main Street photograph by Ed Roseberry.

Lockn’ 2014

Less than an hour south of C’ville on the historic estate of Oak Ridge in Nelson County, Lockn’ 2014, a four-day music festival took place in early September. C’ville Images was there to capture a bit of the sights of the musicians on stage and the festival-goers on the lawn that made for an entertaining and lively weekend. Here’s our photo essay of the event.  Mostly crowd shots, a few band pics (highlight: Del McCoury Band playing with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band).  By day four we bagged the camera and just enjoyed the music.





IMG_4153IMG_4161 IMG_4166 IMG_4185 IMG_4188 IMG_4189 IMG_4208 IMG_4224  IMG_4241 IMG_4247 IMG_4251 IMG_4259 IMG_5274  IMG_4282 IMG_4289 IMG_4140 IMG_4121 IMG_4112  IMG_4074 IMG_4059 IMG_4056 IMG_4042 IMG_4035 IMG_4021 IMG_4020 IMG_4012 IMG_4007 IMG_4003 IMG_4000 IMG_3953 IMG_3948 IMG_3931 IMG_5244 IMG_5237 IMG_3835 IMG_3798 IMG_3796 IMG_3783 IMG_3777 IMG_3751 IMG_3734 IMG_5205


The Aviator

IMG_7877If you have ever walked the Grounds of the University of Virginia, near Alderman
Library, you have probably seen this curious statue.  An athletic young man, standing on the world, with wings on his arms, and wearing a WWI aviator’s cap.  It is titled “The Aviator” and was sculpted by Gutzon Borglum.
Gutzon-Borglum-Standing-Next-to-“The-Aviator”You may not recognize Borglum, but you know his work.  He was the designer and sculptor of Mount Rushmore.

3b11262vThis image shows Borglum and one of his team on the likeness of George Washington on Mt Rushmore in the 1930s.

getStaticImage-25“The Aviator ” had already been in place for more than a decade by the 1930s.  This  photograph shows the statue in place at the time construction began on Alderman Library.  A dump truck can be seen here dumping fill where the library would later be built. Part of Memorial Gym (built in the 1920s) is visible in the distance (right).

24298_531927816845253_287010229_nAnother photograph shows the statue in place, shortly after installation, with only landscaping around it.
Borglum isn’t the only story behind this statue. It was sculpted to
commemorate the remarkable former UVa student, young business man,
decorated WWI hero, and a founding member of the French flying squadron, the Lafayette Escadrille.  The real story here is the short life of James Rogers McConnell.

e3a10bdab0b48f855dd5103fbc3933f4James McConnell entered the College in 1907, where he studied for two years before
entering the Law School where he stayed until his withdrawal in 1910.  Jim
was well liked and active at the University holding memberships in Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, Theta Nu Epsilon, O.W.L., T.I.L.K.A., The German Club and The Seven Society.  He was King of The Hot Foot Society, Editor-in-Chief of Corks and Curls (front, center in light colored suit in above photograph), Assistant Cheer Leader, a founder of the Aero Club.
In 1915 France was at war with Germany.  America was not yet involved, but many American young men joined the American Field Service in France which drove ambulances and helped the wounded.  Jim was one of these volunteers. On the trip over he met a beautiful French girl and her mother, who had been living in New York, but were returning to ‘do their duty’ at home.  Jim and Marcel fell in love and some of their letters are preserved by The University.

Lafayette_Escadrille_pilots_with_a_Nieuport_16_March1916McConnell was recognized by the French government for his bravery and in 1916  he volunteered as a pilot in the newly formed, almost all American, flying squadron.

c60a834a9ccd8a56987de19b8a1eddebThe symbol painted on McConnell’s plane is not the symbol of his squadron.  It is a red foot, for the Hot Foot Society he loved so well while at the University.  Even while far away in France, flying for another country, he wanted to be connected to his beloved UVa.  His classmate, and friend, Armisted Dobie noted that when in France he saw a memorial plaque for Jim.  Upon it was engraved his name, birth and death dates, branch of service and mention of him receiving the French medal Croix de Guerre for his service…and at the bottom ‘he was an alumnus of the University of Virginia’.

mcconcvMcConnell would write of his experiences during the war in a book published after his death.
Marcel Gruein, the young woman he met on the trip to France, wrote of their last time together 60 years later. “To this day I wistfully recall the last time we entertained dear Jim McConnell. We were about to be served coffee in the salon and as he stood with his back to the fireplace, he said in a quiet voice ‘well, I suppose I’m the next to go.’  Those prophetic words wrenched our hearts and alas came true the 19th of March, 1917.”  He was killed in aerial combat with two German aircraft. He had just turned 30 that week.  He was the first University of Virginia alumnus to die in WWI.

0493d59c14f2dbb8529e9b1389a7f3e4Sgt. McConnell was missing for three days after his plane was shot down just over German lines.  Letters from his fellow pilots tell of their hopes he may yet be safe, maybe taken prisoner. In the following days, the Germans began retreating,  and his comrades  finally heard news  about his fallen plane.  A local woman saw the crash, but wasn’t able to approach because the German’s swarmed over the scene taking all they could, even his boots.   Two of his fellow pilots were able to fly in and verify his death.  The French troops buried him where he fell, in an apple orchard, near a road, outside the small town of  Petite Detroit (above photo).  The family that owned the farm soon deeded the location of the grave to Jim’s father.  Local families tended the grave and kept it covered in flowers, even in winter.  At first, it was marked only by the broken pieces of his plane.  Soon, the French built him a monument and in 1928 he was finally moved to rest with his fallen friends in the Lafayette Memorial at Marnes-la-Coquette, France.

lafayettJames Rogers McConnell, pictured here on the far left, was nothing less than a hero back in Charlottesville, Virginia. Within a week of his death, University President Edwin A. Alderman had been contacted by family and alumni requesting a memorial.  President Alderman to McConnell’s father:   ‘I am glad I knew James McConnell well. I saw in him evidences of idealism, but I confess I did not suspect that there lived in his happy, carefree mood such splendid reserves of courage, devotion, idealism and faith,” Alderman wrote.  “If he were my boy, though his broken body lies buried in a foreign land, I should be the proudest father in the world today.”

In 1918 Mr. Borglum gave an interview to the New York Evening Sun where he explained

his inspiration for the statue:”I was asked to make a memorial to one of those young Americans who offered his life and gave it to France, fighting against her enemies and the enemies of mankind.  I saw no better way of memorializing their great accomplishment than by making this modern Icarus a real man flying….The vision of Daedalus, the Greek, who attempted to make wings for himself and his son has at last come true.  Daedalus and Icarus, however, flew too near the sun and their waxen wings melted, but the aviator of today has combined the daring and fearlessness of the Greek with twentieth century science….The McConnell statue represents a modern Icarus just in the point of leaping off the world, the shank knife which he carries in his belt symbolizing combat.”

getStaticImage-19The statue is revered by those who understand its history and the man it memorializes. This photo shoot in the 1940s appears to be connecting the war heroism of the First World War with the war efforts in WWII.

Aviator:RotundaThe Aviator statue has long been a source of interest, curiosity, but also misunderstanding.  Students have covered it with just about everything, including balloons, toilet paper and even a jockstrap.  People make fun of it thinking it was supposed to be an angel or maybe a lunatic.  Others have wanted to remove it because it did not seem to fit the surrounding architecture. This statue is in memory of a real man, a funny, smart, well loved member of the University of Virginia.  A man who studied hard and played hard, was known as a prankster and could be found around Grounds playing the bagpipe…who once took a train to New York just to buy a ‘Scottish uniform”..maybe that uniform made him better at the bagpipes?!  He was fun loving and ready for adventure.  After his death, a friend described him as someone with “hatred of the humdrum, an abhorrence of the commonplace, a passion for the picturesque”.  I don’t think he’d mind the pranks the students play on his memorial, I rather think he would encourage it.

Written by Lisa Ramsey Bergstrom.
C’ville Images is pleased to have Lisa, a writer and history researcher, contribute to our ever-growing list of posts about Charlottesville history.
 If you share our interest in C’ville history and old photographs, please contact us. We are looking for writers, photographers, and researchers who would be willing to contribute a little bit of time to explore our local history.

I first saw this statue in 1996.  My stepfather, who was a pilot in the US Air Force, was drawn to it and had this picture taken with his then 4 year old grandson, Christian.  Christian is now a 4th Year at the University of Virginia. When I told some current students I was doing a story about this memorial they said ‘oh that weird statue by Alderman?’  Yes, that’s the one.  That is why I wanted to tell this story on the 100th year anniversary of the start of WWI. -Lisa Ramsey Bergstrom
Photo credits/sources (numbered in order):
Steve Trumbull: 1,2,14
UVA Library: 2,4,5,7,8,9,11,12,13
Library of Congress: 3
Corks and Curls (UVA): 6
Lisa Bergstrom: 15


75 Years Ago

WWII and WWI monument Cville75 years ago today, September 1, 1939, was the beginning of WWII as Germany invaded Poland. Just a couple of years later the United States would join the Allies in that war.  In Charlottesville, we have a monument- often overlooked- dedicated to the men and women of Charlottesville and Albemarle County who served in WWII (as well as those that served in WWI).

DSC_1047Two of our friends (and contributors to C’ville Images), Buddy Voshell and Ed Roseberry, both served in the Pacific during WWII. Take time to thank and acknowledge those who served back then and stop by the monument sometime as well.  It stands on the grounds of the former Lane High School and current-day Albemarle County office building.

22250001The stone and plaque have been moved around town at least a couple of times.  This photo from our archives shows it at the east end of Main Street (1970-80s) and we also have an earlier photo (1950’s) at the bottom of Beck’s Hill (where High Street meets Preston Avenue) not far from where it stands today.

38330010Roseberry At War

1595Unidentified sailor from Charlottesville has his picture taken in a front yard along West Main Street. Businesses in the 500 and 600 block of W. Main including the old Albemarle Hotel (far left) can be seen behind him.

DSC_1018Voshell and Roseberry look at old photographs from WWII and reminisce about their years serving their county.

© C’ville Images 2010-2014. All photos are all from C’ville Images digital photo archive and cannot be used without permission.

September 2014

September 2014 is shaping up to be one of the busiest months for C’ville Images since we’ve started.

Scan-1-1024x819The September slideshow at C’ville Coffee will be held on Thursday, the 11th, 7 pm.  The program, called “Signs of C’ville” will feature signage and storefronts from Charlottesville over the past 100 years or so. Just a handful of tickets still available. Reserve yours now!

img516Even as we put the finishing touches on the September show we are also looking ahead to October’s program and scanning dozens of postcards from the postcard collection of former Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris. We were fortunate to acquire Dave’s extensive collection a couple of years ago and are now thrilled to have him join us and take us on a narrated tour of the collection. The detail shown above is from a photo postcard of West Main Street from a century ago.

POSTARDS poster - Version 2C’ville Images will be working with Mr. Norris throughout September as we scan, research, and prepare for the October show.  Ticket sales for this special event will be announced later in September.

img024This week, however, we are working with C’ville Images supporter and contributor, Lisa Bergstrom, who is writing and researching a story for the website. The subject is from the Grounds of UVA (Hint: It’s NOT in the photo above) and one that has been overlooked or misunderstood by many who have come across it.  We are currently gathering additional images and will post this extensive piece next Sunday. You won’t want to miss it!

img078Another event this month will be the screening of “Giant”, the 1956 film starring Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor. Parts of this epic movie were filmed near Charlottesville and frequent C’ville Images contributor Ed Roseberry was on the set.  Ed and I will be presenting an introduction to the screening at the Paramount on September 28th showing a few of his behind-the-scenes photographs.  Details forthcoming.  The screening is sponsored by Karyn Trumbull who is a real estate broker with Nest Realty and the primary financial contributor to C’ville Images.

And, as always, C’ville Images will continue its work scanning vintage images, documenting current-day Charlottesville, and telling some interesting bits of C’ville history through our website and Facebook page.

Thanks to everyone who shows their support by attending our programs, purchasing prints, and making small donations through the website.  All this helps us continue our work here at C’ville Images.