Columbia, VA, 1955

In March, C’ville Images ran a post on Columbia, VA, a short drive from Charlottesville on the James River in Fluvanna County.  Since then, one of our readers, Andy Sorrell of Palmyra, sent us a couple of color images from Columbia taken in 1955.

columbia_1This first photo shows St. James Street (Route 6) as it looked in 1955. The brick building in the foreground (possibly an inn back in the day) appears to be in disrepair.  Later photos reveal this building was torn down by the end of the 1960s.  The other prominent structure in this image (the white building with the two-story portico) was once a Masonic Lodge and is also gone, having been demolished a decade or more ago.  A couple of the buildings in between, though barely visible here, still stand today.

columbia_2This second photograph shows the railroad depot as it looked in 1955. It was situated by the tracks at that time, but in 1978 was moved uphill a short distance (see current day photo below).

Columbia 3


Columbia MarketIn our previous post we mentioned this store as one of the only remaining businesses in Columbia. The photo below, taken by Don Long for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, shows the same building, then a service station, in June of 1972. It was taken during one of several James River floods that have ultimately doomed the small town, once an important trading center in Central Virginia.  More vintage images of Columbia from the Richmond Times-Dispatch here.



The 1955 photographs were taken by Carolyn N. Tutwiler.  Her family owned the nearby property on the James River known as Seven Islands, the history of which  can be found on its own website put together by Andy Sorrell.

West Main Street, Part 2

Holsinger Texaco Wagon West MainThe second in our series on “The Changing Face of West Main” is set for May 14th.  John Shepherd will once again join us to co-narrate this virtual walk down West Main Street, looking back through photographs covering the last 100 years or so. Again we are at C’ville Coffee.  After a change in April with our show with Ed Roseberry, we’re returning to our usual second Thursday, 7 pm. date and time.

IMG_5183This is a fascinating part of town that has seen dramatic changes in the buildings and businesses, reflecting the diverse history of this stretch of town between downtown and UVA.

Our first show in March was sold out and we hope to have a great audience for this one as well.  We have so much photographic material on this part of town we were only able to share a portion of it last time. This show will cover the same ground but with all new images.  Tickets are on sale now for $10 each.  Contact Steve Trumbull and simply let him know how many tickets you need to reserve.  We’re looking forward to another enjoyable evening. Thank you for supporting our work at C’ville Images!


Top image courtesy Holsinger Collection, UVA Library. Other photos are part of C’ville Images photographic archives. All work copyrighted. Not to be used with our permission.


Charlottesville & Albemarle Railway Power Plant

getStaticImage-4This photograph, taken 100 years ago, shows the power plant owned and operated by the Charlottesville & Albemarle Railway. Constructed on the the banks of the Rivanna River near Woolen Mills in 1913-14, it provided the city of Charlottesville with electricity.

getStaticImage-2This pair of images (above and below) taken 100 years apart gives a “Then and Now” look at the plant’s operation.C&A Railway power plant

getStaticImage-2This second pair of images shows the main room of the plant which housed the coal-fired boiler. Today the roof is gone and the massive steel roof truss hangs precariously in the trees that have grown up from the floor. The location of the plant was ideal: Near the river (providing water, converted to steam, to run the system) and next to the railroad line (to provide delivery of coal to run the boiler).C&A 3

2000px-Coal_fired_power_plant_diagram.svgThis diagram shows a typical operation of a power plant of this type. (Source: Wikipedia)

Once the tile floor of the power plant it has now become the forest floor as trees and vegetation take root.

C&A9C&A RY bldgC&A6Only small bits of the roof remain along with a vent perched on the steel roof beams.Ghost Sign C&AThe signage on the exterior wall done in brick is still clearly legible: “C. AND A. RY”CSX 2An empty coal train passes the abandoned power plant.getStaticImage-2The plant as it looked when first constructed a century ago.

getStaticImage-2This billboard, located on West Main Street in the early 20th Century, advertised electricity for the home and the electric trolley services of C&A Railway Company. The electric trolley service in Charlottesville had less than 4 miles of track and operated for about 4 decades, shutting down during the Great Depression.

All vintage images courtesy Specials Collections, UVA Library
All other photos © C’ville Images
All work is copyrighted and can only be used with permission.

Sketchbook: Buckingham Branch

Steve Haske 1Steve Haske is a professional illustrator and graphic designer here in Charlottesville and in his spare time he wanders the streets of C’ville looking for things to sketch. Anything is game: people, street scenes, old barns, coffee shops, construction sites.  C’ville Images recently caught up with Steve on a Sunday outing with Urban Sketchers Charlottesville, a local chapter of an international group of artists (both amateur and professional) who meet up and sketch for fun. Steve is seen here near the Belmont Bridge, waiting for his fellow sketchers to arrive, and scoping out the location for potential subjects.

15-03-15-traintracksSteve’s drawing of Buckingham Branch engine #7.

Engine #7

Steve Haske 2The artist at work.

We hope to show more of Steve’s work in future posts along with the work of other artists in the Urban sketchers group. Meanwhile you can see more of Steve Haske’s drawings here.

We featured another member of the Urban Sketchers, Jessie Chapman, last year in this post.

All work is copyrighted and should not be used without permission

Backroads: Columbia

Columbia RR DepotJust 30 miles from Charlottesville, at the confluence of the Rivanna and James Rivers, lies a small town steeped in history, but in a steep decline. The once-thriving town that dates to 1788 recently voted to unincorporate itself which will turn over local government and services to Fluvanna County.

It seems the town’s fate has always been tied to the two rivers. In the earlier days, commerce on the James and Rivanna made this a great location for trade and it played a role in both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. The railroad, which parallels the James River came to Columbia in the mid-1800s and brought freight and commerce to Columbia.  In the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, flooding from the rivers hurt the town considerably and it never has recovered despite an infusion of federal funds a decade or more ago to try to revitalize it.

C’ville Images visited the semi-ghost town in 2014 on one of our “Backroads” treks. Below are a few more photos from Columbia. Columbia 11 St. John’s Episcopal ChurchColumbia Market One of the only businesses left in townColumbia 8 St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, founded 1884Columbia 1 Columbia 14 Columbia 9 Memorial Baptist Church, founded 1842Columbia 12 Columbia, VA post office Columbia 6 Columbia 7 Columbia 5 Columbia 4 Bridge over the James River at Columbia
Columbia 3The Columbia railroad depot, which was moved uphill, away from the river (and the tracks) in 1978, sits empty.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has more photographs including some vintage pics of the various floods that have devastated the small town.

Roseberry Show in April

Roseberry April 2015 poster

Ed Roseberry has been a big part of C’ville Images from the beginning and we have done multiple shows, talks, and exhibits with Ed over the last few years.  This latest show gathers together some of the best photographs from those presentations.  If you have not attended our past shows with Ed, this is the one to see!  Even if you have had the pleasure of seeing Ed’s work and hearing him tell the stories behind the images, this program offers a nice retrospective and, as always, we will add in a few newly-scanned photos that have not been shown before.

This summer we’ll be celebrating Ed’s 90th birthday, so come out to meet Ed and wish him well. Tickets for the program are $10 which is split between Mr. Roseberry and C’ville Images and supports the work we continue to do together.

April 22 is a Wednesday- a change from our usual second Thursday shows- so mark your calendar and order tickets today!  This show will be getting some media coverage and we anticipate a sold-out show.  Tickets are ONLY available in advance, and must be pre-paid. We won’t be selling tickets at the door.

To reserve yours just contact Steve Trumbull and let him know how many you’ll need and he’ll reply with payment instructions.

Thanks for your support of Ed Roseberry and C’ville Images!

Market on West Main

This is the third in a series of posts focusing on C’ville businesses operating in older buildings and thereby contributing to the historic and architectural preservation in Charlottesville.Grand Market West MainGrand Market is a small gourmet grocery store on West Main Street and specializes in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Foods. A family-run business with well-stocked shelves and friendly service, it has managed to stay in business despite the rapid changes and development occurring around it.

_DSC9086The shop occupies a long standing building on the 300 block of West Main, the exterior of which has been virtually unchanged for decades. The blue tile facade still bears the GE logo which reveals the building’s former life as an appliance store.

Hotel Construction on West Main 1Despite the construction of a large hotel next door, the owner of the small shop hopes his small grocery continues to succeed. He hopes, in fact, the hotel might bring him some added business. He told C’ville Images he has loyal customers but parking is not ideal at this location.  Still, he makes enough money to keep his children in college.

West Main Inge'sThis building (now West Main Restaurant, but for many decades also a grocery store) and the blue-tiled building Grand Market occupies are two of the very few buildings remaining from the Vinegar Hill neighborhood that was mostly demolished with the “urban renewal” program in the early 1960s.

DSC_0826The Grand Market doesn’t limit its offerings to groceries.

_DSC4246A partially hidden “ghost sign” reveals another one of the neighboring businesses from years past.

IMG_9013The side of the building displays one of West Main Street’s murals.

West Main TD17However, with the new hotel going up, this mural will be obscured.

All photos © Trumbull Photography/C’ville Images

John Shepherd, West Main

John Shepherd Mel's West Main 2

Photographer John Shepherd has been taking photographs of street scenes in Charlottesville for decades and his earliest work includes photos of West Main Street dating to the early 1970s. John (seen in the above image on a recent walk along West Main St.) will be joining C’ville Images on Thursday, March 12th, 2015 to co-narrate a photographic history of West Main in Charlottesville over the past century or more. We will include some of John’s work but many other photographers as well. The program will reveal the remarkable changes that have occurred here over the years.

Below are just a handful of John’s images of West Main. More of his photography from Charlottesville (and around the world) can be found here.

Tickets for the upcoming show ($10 ea.) are almost sold out but can still be had by contacting us.

Live Bait 1976 Inge's pepsi and Coke 1976-1 Pace's Taxi Sign1976 Duck In 1976-1 Charlottesville Motors #8-1

 All photographs are copyrighted and may not be used without permission.


Changing Face of West Main

March 12, 2015 is the date for C’ville Images first show of the year.  The slideshow presentation will be held at our usual venue, C’ville Coffee. John Shepherd and Steve Trumbull will co-narrate a large selection of photos covering the changes along this historic street in Charlottesville.  (Tickets are limited and only available by contacting us through this website’s contact page). Here is just a small sampling of the images we are working through to assemble this photographic “tour through time” covering the past 100-plus years of West Main Street.

Queen Charlotte 1919An early look (circa 1919) at the Queen Charlotte Hotel that stood across from the Southern Railroad station throughout the first half of the 20th Century.

20520019Now a restaurant, we will trace the history of this building back into the days when West Main was C’ville’s “Motor Mile.”

18760002Another prominent landmark on West Main, the Albemarle Hotel.

IMG_8486First Baptist Church on West Main dates to the 1880s making it one of the oldest extant structures in this ever-changing part of town.

Holsinger Livers Car and HouseThe program will also look at some of the residences that lined West Main more than a century ago, a few of which still stand today.

20510009West Main has seen a number of murals come and go over the years.

IMG_7137We will also look at the bridge on West Main crossing the Southern RR line along with many other remarkable changes this urban corridor has seen through the years.

All photographs are part of the extensive image collection at C’ville Images with the exception of the two B&W photographs which come courtesy Special Collections, UVA Library.  All work is copyrighted and used by permission and is not to be reproduced or used without permission.

March Show

Poster West Main

C’ville Images is starting a new season of photo presentations on Thursday, March 12th. This slideshow will be co-hosted by John Shepherd and Steve Trumbull and look at over 100 years of images of West Main Street in Charlottesville.

Arguably, this part of town has experienced more transformations than any other part of town and our “tour through time” documents these changes. Many of the photographs we’ll show have not been publicly available before and many of the buildings (residences, auto dealerships, and hotels) are long gone or have dramatically changed. The evolution of this street continues today at a rapid pace making this a good time to take a long look back.

We hope you can join us.  Tickets are $10 and available by simply emailing Steve Trumbull  and stating how many tickets you’d like to reserve. Our shows tend to sell out so get your tickets early.