Charlottesville Then & Now

The following selections are taken from our recent exhibit, “Charlottesville Then & Now” which was on display at City Space in June of 2016.  The exhibit paired vintage images from Ed Roseberry with more recent photos by Steve Trumbull of the same locations. Steve Haske helped us create this interactive display of several of the pairings. “Then and Now” has been a great way to show the photographic history of Charlottesville and has been an integral part of our slideshows and web projects over the years. This display uses a “slider” device which allows the viewer to move between the past and present. “Pull” the arrows left or right to view two images.

The Paramount Theater on Main Street, 1959/2016: Ed Roseberry took this black and white photo in December 1959. The holiday lights are seen here hung along Main Street, which was open to motor vehicles until the pedestrian mall was built in the mid-70s. The blade sign above the marquee of The Paramount Theater would be removed a few years later, sometime in the 1960s. Roseberry’s photo has been seen in a wide variety of locations including the offices of The Paramount Theater. Steve Trumbull took the current day photograph after a replica blade sign was installed on The Paramount Theater. The photo was taken as night fell in order to mimic the scene from the Roseberry shot. Main Street is now a pedestrian mall and the Willow Oaks planted in the 1970s have become a major feature in the streetscape. The businesses surrounding the theater have changed but many of the buildings from 1959 remain.

The College Inn 1961/2016: The College Inn has been at this location since the early 1950s and the exterior has remained virtually unchanged throughout its history. This same location had previously been the University branch of Keller & George, a jewelry store, and one of the oldest businesses in Charlottesville still in operation. Eljo’s (men’s wear) is another long- lived Charlottesville area business. The tallest and most prominent building on this block is Anderson Brothers Book Store, its white-painted metal facade seen in the older photo in the distance. Today, the sidewalk is wider to accommodate outdoor seating and University Avenue is more narrow with less parking. The College Inn’s sign has changed over time although the apparatus hanging it from the roof is the same. Several of the other shops along this block have changed including the iconic Anderson Brothers Bookstore building which no longer sells books, but instead houses a CVS drugstore.

View from Belmont Bridge, Looking East, Early 1950s/2016: When Ed Roseberry took his black and white photo from the old Belmont Bridge it was just to the west of the current bridge’s location. The railroad yard in Charlottesville was extensive, including many sidetracks, water towers, and coal and wood supplies. There was a roundhouse and turntable seen here in the distant left. A coal tower is visible in the distant right. The current Belmont Bridge was built in the early 1960s to span this broad and busy railroad yard. Today’s view shows the railroad yard is greatly diminished and Water Street is extended to the east. With the recent addition of City Walk Apartments, the street now runs past the old coal tower, the only structure from the old photograph still standing today. The LexisNexis building stands at the left in the current day image. Buckingham Branch Railroad, which operates exclusively in Central Virginia, is moving boxcars on the tracks at the right.


The Corner, University Avenue, Early 1950s/2016: The shops and restaurants along this part of The Corner in the early 1950s included (from distant right), Eljo’s, College Inn, Jameson Book Store, University Cafeteria, The Virginian, Jones Barber Shop (downstairs), Collins, Inc. (men’s clothing), and The Corner Shop. A few years later Mincer’s Pipe Shop would replace The Corner Shop and the Mincer Family has continued to own and operate a business at this location up to the present day. Seen from the same view today the location is unmistakable, with very little change having occurred to the buildings here and some of the very same businesses still serving the students and faculty of UVa more than a half-century later. The Virginian now has sidewalk patio seating shaded by a large Zelkova tree, the stone wall on the near side of the street still stands, and Mincer’s sign and awning boast UVA’s school colors.



Mad Bowl, Mid-1970s/2012: Until the early 1980s, UVA hosted Easters, a springtime social event that had morphed into a massive party by the 1970s. The scene in the black and white photo at Madison Bowl (an athletic field near some of the University’s fraternity houses) was typical of the era, with music and mayhem fueled by large quantities of booze. Rainy weather could turn Mad Bowl into a mud bowl. Roseberry had regularly photographed the Easters events from the 1950s through the 1970s. Today, Madison Bowl is a well-kept athletic field located between Madison Lane and Rugby Road. The fraternities that surround it remain. Madison Bowl gets its name from its location behind Madison Hall, named for James Madison (U.S. President and one-time rector of the University). Madison Hall opened in 1905 as a campus-based YMCA and was later the Student Union. Madison Bowl once contained tennis courts and a running track.

Emmet Street and Barracks Road, 1948/2013: Ed Roseberry’s first aerial photograph was taken above this intersection in Charlottesville. Ed’s brother, Bob, had recently acquired his private pilot’s license, and Ed took advantage of the family connection to get some unique views of his hometown. Carroll’s Tea Room, a local favorite bar for university students, sat at this intersection along with a gas station seen at the bottom of the image. This part of town was mostly wooded at the time. Today this intersection is a much busier part of Charlottesville with Barracks Road Shopping Center occupying both sides of Barracks Road. A bank has replaced Carroll’s Tea Room which was actually moved in the 1950s in an attempt to save the popular establishment when the shopping center was first being built. The service station in the near corner stood for many years as an Esso and later Exxon, but that lot now stands empty. The intersection lies in the flight path to Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport and Steve Trumbull had to make a quick pass to get a current day photo that would approximate Ed’s shot from 65 years earlier.

West Main Street, 1950/2014: Lane High School’s marching band parades down West Main Street a couple of blocks from The Corner in the older photo from Ed Roseberry. The building on the left was Vance Buick at the time and also offered Gulf gasoline and Hertz car rentals. Both a steak house and a bowling alley would later occupy the same space. Obscured by the trees, beyond the band and sitting back off the street, was the Dolley Madison Inn, where travelers could stay while visiting Charlottesville and the University. Steve Trumbull’s photograph shows the very same view more than 60 years later. The car dealership and service station eventually became Kane Furniture and other buildings along this part of West Main Street have come and gone. The 6-story building seen here is the Battle Building at UVA’s Children’s Hospital, which houses dozens of pediatric specialties. The building, with its innovative design, first opened its doors around the time of the recent photograph.

C&O Railroad Station, 1970s/2016: Ed Roseberry took this photograph looking west on Water Street from the Belmont Bridge. The covered railroad platform was still in place at the time as this station still served rail passengers. The building seen here dates to the early 20th Century although there was a railroad line to Charlottesville before the Civil War. Note the freshly painted Pepsi billboard in the distance down Water Street. That faded advertising can still be seen today. The old C&O building still stands today with later additions both east and west. Buckingham Branch currently leases the stretch of railroad in Central Virginia that includes the tracks through Charlottesville. What used to be a grassy knoll at the east end of Main Street is now occupied by the Downtown Transit Station. Completed in 2008, it serves as the central hub for the Charlottesville Transit Service. The historic C&O Train Station now contains office space.

100 Block, East Main Street, 1970/2016: Roseberry’s color photograph, taken on slide film, shows some of the shops along Main Street including the Jefferson Theater when it showed films. The shot is one of thousands Roseberry took of parades in Charlottesville in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. Boy Scouts motor past with their campsite display and other kids entertain with bike tricks as crowds of locals look on. This part of Main Street would remain a drivable street for just a few more years. Most of the buildings in this same view, taken by Steve Trumbull, are easily recognizable today. Still, many have undergone changes. Most dramatic is the1930s building on the right with the ornate stone and tile facade. Originally built as a woman’s clothing store, the current owner has restored the original street-side look and added a large apartment on the second story. The Jefferson Theater has also had renovations in recent years and lives on as a live music venue.

First & Main, 1962/2016: When Ed Roseberry took his photo in 1962 looking west from the intersection of First and Main Streets, the shops in the first block of West Main included Robinsons, Roses, and Joe The Motorists’ Friend. Miller’s, on the north side of the street was a drug store at the time. The long-lived Young Men’s Shop was in the tall building on the left. In the distance you can see that the first phase of demolition in the Vinegar Hill urban renewal has taken the commercial buildings along Main Street. Looking at the same view in Steve Trumbull’s current day shot, many of the buildings along the north side of the street remain relatively unchanged from a half-century ago, although the shops and businesses have all changed. Miller’s Drug Store was converted in recent decades to the restaurant and bar known simply as Miller’s. The Willow Oaks now shade the brick and stone pavers of the pedestrian mall, and a marker in the center of the intersection at First & Main (seen in the foreground of Trumbull’s photo, notes the point where the city is divided into its geographical quadrants, NE, NW, SE, and SW.

200 Block, East Main Street, 1964/2016: Ed Roseberry stood in the street in front of The Paramount Theater to get this black and white shot looking west. Car traffic on Main Street was only one-way at the time. The Art Deco facade of the Citizens Bank and Trust Company can be seen on the left. The three story building on the right housing the Hallmark Card Shop would be destroyed by fire a decade later. Also note the signs hanging prominently above the storefronts along Main Street at the time. Today, street vendors and outdoor cafes have replaced the automobiles along Main Street. The 1973 fire that destroyed several buildings on the north side of the street left the space that became Central Place with a fountain, outdoor seating, and more open space worked into the original design of the pedestrian mall. Citizens Bank changed its facade several decades ago and that location is now the infamous and abandoned Landmark Hotel project.

300 Block, East Main Street, 1962/2016: A drivable Main Street allowed cars to pull right up to the storefronts back in the mid-Twentieth Century. Prominent in the older photo is the People’s National Bank Building, built in the 1910s and displaying large columns with Corinthian capitals. It has been the home to several different banks over the past 100 years. Also seen in the 1962 view at the distant right is the Paramount blade sign that was removed (and never seen again) a few years after this photo was taken. These days, giant Willow Oaks shade outdoor seating for restaurants on Main Street, now a pedestrian mall. The bank still stands and awaits a new tenant. An exact replica of The Paramount Theater’s old sign was constructed and installed in 2015. There wasn’t a sign there at all for most of the years between these two photos. The look of many of the buildings in this stretch of downtown is remarkably well-preserved, and still no building here is taller than the Charlottesville National Bank Building, built circa 1920, seen in the distant right.

View from Belmont Bridge, 1970/2016: After the Belmont Bridge was replaced in 1962 you could still access Main and Water Streets by using the ramps seen in the older photograph, taken some time after City Hall was completed in 1969. The Monticello Hotel, built in 1925, can be seen in the distance. The large, white building at the right was the National Ground Intelligence Center (built mid-1960s). The pedestrian mall, the Market Street Parking Garage, and City Hall Annex are yet to be built. The the current day photo you see the Charlottesville Pavilion which was built in 2005 at the east end of the downtown pedestrian mall to provide an outdoor venue for music performances including Fridays After Five. The Monticello Hotel still remains the tallest building in Downtown Charlottesville. The old NGIC building is now SNL Financial and is painted a dark green. The Transit Station is also a recent addition to this part of downtown.

Vinegar Hill, Early 1960s/2016: This section of west Main Street was historically known as Vinegar Hill and by the mid-Twentieth Century contained shops and restaurants, although many of the buildings here were in disrepair. The red brick building since in the vintage, color image was a Masonic Lodge (note the symbol between the second story windows). Instead of being preserved, everything seen in the old photo was lost to the federally-funded “urban renewal” program not long after Ed Rosebery took this photograph. This portion of Vinegar Hill would remain mostly empty until the 1980s when the Omni Hotel (out of view to the right in the recent photo) and the U.S. District Courthouse (seen just beyond the trees) were built. The drivable West Main Street no longer comes down Vinegar Hill, but instead, traffic coming from the west connects to Water Street on the left. Brick walks and landscaping now fill the space where the cars are seen in the earlier photo.

About the photographers: Ed Roseberry, now in his 90s, has been taking pictures around Charlottesville and UVA since the 1940s and is a regular contributor of photos to C’ville Images. His best work is the subject of a new book “Flash: The Photography of Ed Roseberry” written and edited by Steve Trumbull of C’ville Images. Steve has been documenting Charlottesville for years and has been working with vintage Charlottesville photographs since 2010, including websites, exhibits, slideshows, and publications, and the new book. A special thanks to Steve Haske for his work on this post, the recent exhibit, the new book, and other C’ville Images projects.

All work © C’ville Images, 2010-2016