Georgian buildings are characterized by a formal arrangement of parts employing a symmetrical composition, often with classical detail. Sliding or double-hung sash windows are common, as is Flemish bond brickwork. One of the few late-built survivors of this period is the 1803 portion of the Albemarle County Courthouse in the Downtown Historic District. Locust Grove at 810 Locust Avenue is also and example of the late Georgian style.
Federal Styles — The later Georgian or Federal style was dominant in the United States during the eighteenth century, but because of the conservative nature of Charlottesville builders, it lasted here well into the nineteenth century. The style derives its name from the reigns of the first three kings of England who ruled the colonies before independence. Basic to the Federal style is symmetry, or the regular placement of windows and doors on an even facade. Windows usually have six or nine panes of glass per sash and the doors are always paneled. The cornice (where the wall meets the roof) usually has a row of modillion blocks, or, in later examples, "mousetoothing" or projecting bricks set on edge to represent modillions. Chimneys are placed symmetrically and are sometimes connected with a low brick wall or curtain. In the nineteenth century, gables are stepped in an almost New York Dutch fashion. In Charlottesville, Federal buildings were built of local, hand-made brick. It was often laid in "Flemish" bond, with long bricks (stretchers) alternating with short bricks (headers). Because of the many variations of the Federal style found in Charlottesville, it is useful to divide it into several categories.
Sophisticated examples of the Federal Style: These examples are rare in the City due to the fact that the wealthy builders were located on plantations in the county. There are, however, two examples which are exceptions:
Federal Vernacular: These structures illustrate provincial interpretations of the more costly "High Style" Federal buildings. They are less formal, more utilitarian, and less pretentious than either the Carter-Gilmer House or "Number Nothing." The architecture, however, is still rooted in the same Georgian design tradition. Examples of Federal Vernacular are: 220-224 Court Square, 211-215 Fourth Street, NE, and 410 East Jefferson Street in the Downtown Historic District, as well as Vowles house at 1111-1113 West Main Street.
Federal Detached House: This type of Federal architecture is quite sophisticated and represents the finest and most common "High Style" domestic structures in Charlottesville. The style is distinguished by its ever present one story entrance porch with columns, low pitched roof, simple cornice, and center hall plan. Two windows almost always flank the center door on each side. So popular was this form that it was revived several times during the twentieth century. Four of the finest examples are: Redlands Club (1832), the Lipop House (1836), and "The Old Manse" (1839) in the Downtown Historic District, and the Livers House (1830) at 1211 West Main Street.
Jeffersonian—This style draws heavily on Jefferson's interpretations of the great sixteenth century Italian architect, Andrea Palladia. It is usually characterized by the use of domes. Major elements of the Jeffersonian Style are (1) the use of classical orders (columns, entablatures, etc.), (2) high first floors with low mezzanine levels above for secondary bed chambers, (3) alcove beds and small stairs to conserve space, and (4) octagonal rooms or room ends. The finest domestic expression of the Jeffersonian style is Monticello, which exercised great influence over the domestic architecture of the antebellum South. The Roman Revival was usually expressed in red brick with white porticos on monumental buildings. The most notable examples in Charlottesville are Oak Lawn located at Cherry Avenue and 9th Street, Montebello at 215 Montebello Circle, and, of course, Jefferson's masterpiece, the Lawn at the University of Virginia.
Greek Revival — Greek Revival architecture became dominant in the United States during the 1830's and 1840's and remained popular throughout the south until the Civil War. It is characterized by the use of Greek (as opposed to Roman) orders supporting either a flat roof or a low pitched roof in the form of a classical pediment. Entrance doors usually feature narrow side lights and a rectangular transom window. Examples of the Greek Revival in Charlottesville include the 1860 portico of the Albemarle County Courthouse and the Hughes House (1850's).
The most frequent expression of the Greek Revival in the city is the unique "Pilastered House". As the name suggests, its most distinguishing characteristic is the use of the two story high pilaster (square columns attached to the wall) on the facade of a building and sometimes of the rear facade. By their very nature, pilasters are cheaper and easier to build than free standing columns and by this fact reaffirms the conservative nature of the local building industry. Examples of the "Pilastered House," include the Levy Opera House (1852), the Gleason House (1859), and the Lyons House (1858) on Lyons Court.
Gothic Revival—the Gothic Revival, which began in England during the eighteenth century reached its height of popularity in this country during the 1840's, although it survived in a somewhat different form up to our own time. Its most prominent feature is the pointed arch used for doors and windows. Steep pointed gables, often with sawn gingerbread bargeboards, towers, turrets, and verandas are also characteristic. Two charming examples of this style are the Perkins House at 433 North First Street (c. 1850) and the Bailey-Parrott-Fowler Cottage (1862) at 204 Ridge Street.
The Victorian Period—This style flourished in the 1870's and 1880's and 1890's and is featured in some of Charlottesville's finest mansions of the period. This style is characterized by a picturesque variety of architectural forms, color, and material on the exterior. Windows and doors "may be straight-topped or round arched (seldom pointed arched), bay windows may assume a variety of shapes and are often extended upward to form a tower. Large gables are either separately or in groups, and chimneys are paneled or otherwise enriched. Examples of this style in the City are Marshall-Rucker House at 620 Park Street, the Duke House at Park Street, and the Barringer Mansion at 1404 Jefferson Park Avenue. Many structures in Charlottesville have same features which could be further designated as Queen Anne style.
Victorian Vernacular: Many more humble buildings of the period exhibit vernacular features or details on Virginia-I houses and other simple buildings. Buildings with more elaborate details, such as sawn work, bracketed cornices, spool friezes, and loop balustrades are often referred to as "Carpenter Gothic." A finely-restored example is the Pendleton House at 526 North First Street in the Downtown Historic District.
Italianate Styles—The nineteenth century's love of exotic, foreign design led to the widespread acceptance of the architecture of other countries, that of Italy being the most enthusiastically adopted. Characteristic of the Italianate style is the tall tower, or campanile, low roof with a wide cave supported by brackets, arched windows and verandas, and heavy rustication (rough surfaced stone work). The Tower House (c. 1850) at 408 Park Street is a good domestic example as is the Judge Robertson House at 705 Park Street in the Downtown Historic District.
Second Empire—This style is based on that of the Second Empire in France, and is identified by the use of Mansard roofs, bracketed cornices and towers. Examples are the Armstrong knitting mill off Preston Avenue and the Peyton House at 205 Fourteenth Street. The Brooks Museum on the University Grounds is also of this style.
Romanesque Revival—The Romanesque Revival was generated by H. H. Richardson, who practically invented the style. Great sloping roofs banked with windows and towers, usually for stairs, along with natural materials including brick and stone, are hallmarks of this style which was present in the First Baptist Church and on Delevan Baptist Church at 632 West Main Street.
The Neo-Classical Period: This revival style, sometimes called the Beaux Arts, sought to return to simple monumentality of classical architecture advocated by Jefferson a century earlier. Because of the scale and expense of reproducing Roman columns, entablatures, pediments and other detailing, this style was largely confined to large public structures such as the Market Street Post Office (1906), the C&O Station, and the Virginia National Bank on Main Street as well as McIntire Library at Lee Park in the Downtown Historic District.
Colonial Revival Styles: The Colonial Revival style developed as a reaction to the supposed disorder and confusion of the later nineteenth century design, It sought to return to the order and discipline of symmetrical and geometric Georgian design. It is also significant to note that this movement revived an American style instead of relying upon European sources. Although many of the architectural elements of the Colonial Revival are directly borrowed from the eighteenth century, they are handled in a heavier, somewhat freer way. Because of its historical associations and because of the conservative nature of its architectural appeal, the Colonial Revival became very popular in Charlottesville in the first third of this century. Some of the finer examples of this style included the Sterling-Lewis House (1919) at 101 East High, the First Methodist Church at 101 East Jefferson (1924), and the Harmon House at 2005 Jefferson Park Avenue.
Jeffersonian Revival: The Jeffersonian Revival refers to the revival of Jeffersonian forms that took place in this area in the early 20th century. Jefferson's influence was so strong that it never really faded away. It was responsible for such buildings at St. Paul's Memorial Church at the University, Eugene Bradbury, Architect, in the early twentieth century, Clark Hall, the Law School at the University in 1932, and "Four Acres" at 1314 Rugby Road.
Art Deco: This period is characterized by a linear, hard-edge composition, often with a vertical emphasis and highlighted with stylized decoration. Facades often are arranged in a series of setbacks, emphasizing the geometric form. Ornamental detailing is executed in the same material as the building, or in colored bricks, tiles or metals. Usually windows are metal casement type. Art Moderne versions include rounded corners, flat roofs, and horizontal lines. Examples include the Ben Franklin Store on West Main Street, the Coca Cola Plant on Preston Avenue, and the Ray Fisher-Ron Martin building at West Main Street.
The surveys included in the Charlottesville Multiple Resource Area nomination to the National Register were prepared by part-time employees of the Charlottesville Department of Community Development in conjunction with the Charlottesville Historic Landmarks Commission. Two persons, Eugenia Bibb and Richard Thomson, conducted almost all the surveys in this nomination. Persons responsible for survey work were trained in historic/architectural survey techniques by professors in the Architecture School of the University of Virginia. All surveys are also reviewed by the Charlottesville Historic Landmarks Commission for accuracy.
The survey work conducted by the City is an ongoing process. Historic and/or architecturally significant buildings have been surveyed in Charlottesville since 1974. Potential buildings are chosen by the Landmarks Commission based upon age records and/or architectural appearance.
The structures and districts included in the Charlottesville Multiple Resource Nomination represent a cross section of all the City's historic periods, from the founding of Charlottesville in the 1760's through the advent of the automobile and the impact it had on the City's expansion. Also included are structures that have played an important part in the history of Charlottesville's black community. Included within the Charlottesville Multiple Resource Nomination are two historic districts: the Ridge Street District and the Wertland Street District near the University of Virginia. These areas are included as districts because of their relative homogeneity and the lack of nonconforming structures within them.
Charlottesville, the home of Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia, is one of the most historically significant cities in Virginia. The City, named for Queen Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of George III, was founded in the early 1760's just west of the Rivanna River watergap on the region's principal east-west route, the Three Notched Road. As laid out in an act of the Virginia General Assembly on December 23, 1762, fifty acres of land around the Albemarle County Courthouse were divided into half acre lots with four east-west streets and five north-south streets. It is this area that now forms the center of downtown Charlottesville.
Between the period of 1760 to 1800, Charlottesville grew very slowly. Even though the Three Notched Road passed through town, the center of economic activity in Albemarle County was Scottsville, which had the strategic advantage of being located on the James River. Named for the three notches chopped in nearby trees to identify its route, the Three Notched Road was one of the principal overland routes between the Shenandoah Valley and Tidewater Virginia. Through Charlottesville, the road followed what is now West Main Street and East Market Street down to Secretary's Ford on the Rivanna River. During the Revolutionary War, British troops traveling on the Three Notched Road noted that Charlottesville was no more than a courthouse with about a dozen houses surrounding it. The only remaining structures "known in Charlottesville to date from this period are the Keith House (ca. 1760) on Keith Valley Road and the Nicholas Lewis House (1770) at 309 Twelfth Street, NE.
With the beginning of the construction of Thomas Jefferson's "Academical Village" at the University of Virginia in 1817, Charlottesville began to experience a greater amount of growth outside the central area immediately around the County Courthouse. Because it was the main road between what was then the town and the University, West Main Street began its initial development around this period. Before 1820, only a few large farms fronted on West Main Street, which was still only on the fringes of Charlottesville, a small village of around 200 persons. One of the first homes built along West Main Street after the University opened was the Pitts-Inge House, built in 1820 at 331 West Main Street. Another early home was Paxton Place (503 West Main Street), finished in 1824.
The fortunes of the West Main Street area in the mid-1800's waxed and waned with those of the University and town on either side of it. In its early years, the University of Virginia was often rocked by turmoil, most of it caused by disruptive students. In turn, much of their rebelliousness was blamed upon the consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol. In an effort to reduce this dissipation, in the late 1820's, General John H. Cocke, a member of the University's first Board of Visitors, built the Delevan Hotel on the current site of West Main Street's First Baptist Church, one of the last, if not the last, examples of Romanesque architecture in the City. This hotel, named after a long forgotten prohibitionist, allowed no liquor. Also called "Mudwall" after the red stucco wall surrounding it, the hotel eventually failed. It was later used as a hospital for some of the 12,000 Confederate wounded treated in Charlottesville during the Civil War. The Midway House, once located at the intersection of West Main and Ridge Streets, also served as a hospital during the war.
The Civil War left Charlottesville relatively unscathed. With the exception of its being a hospital center, the City had little strategic importance and was not occupied by Union troops until March of 1865 when General Sheridan's forces moved into town following the defeat of Confederate General Early near Waynesboro. It is believed that General George Armstrong Ouster of General Sheridan's staff was quartered at the G. W. Parish House (1201 East Jefferson Street).
Even before the Civil War began, Charlottesville was gaining predominance as the economic center of the region as rail travel became more important than the state's river and canal system. With the introduction of the railroad into Charlottesville in 1850, the West Main Street area had its beginnings as the transportation center of the City. During this year, the Virginia Central Railroad, now part of the Chesapeake and Ohio system, laid tracks on the rail line right-of-way that now runs parallel to West Main Street. This route formed one of the primary rail links between Piedmont Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. By 1855, the Virginia Central started work on tracks south to Lynchburg, trades which now comprise a trunk line of the Southern Railroad. In the late 1850's these two lines were joined at the hub of the West Main Street corridor. Union Station, built at this intersection in 1885, has witnessed the arrival of countless visitors to Charlottesville, including President Theodore Roosevelt, who arrived by train in 1902. In 1918 the troops of the Monticello Guard, a battalion of local volunteers, marched down West Main Street to their Union Station mustering point on their way to fight in World War I. The West Main Street bridge crossing these tracks was originally wooden; the current concrete bridge dates back to the early 1900's.
By 1870, Charlottesville had reached a population of 2,838 and encompassed an area now roughly bounded by Garrett Street, Ninth Street, Parkway and McIntire Roads. The principal residential streets were Park, Ridge, First, and High Streets, with West Main Street, Scottsville Road, Park Street and East Market Street being the main roads out of town. Surrounding the City were half a dozen large farms, the property of most of which is now found within the City limits. The main houses for a number of these farms are still standing, including those of the Fife estate ("Oaklawn" on Cherry Avenue). Locust Grove at 810 Locust Avenue, the "Farm" at 1201 East Jefferson Street and Belmont at 759 Belmont Avenue.
1887 saw the advent of Charlottesville's first street car system, the main line of which ran down West Main Street. First drawn by horses, the streetcar line extended from downtown to the University. For a time West Main's horse drawn streetcar tracks paralleled newly installed electric streetcar tracks. In 1896, the two lines merged and the horse pulled cars disappeared. By the early 1900's, the streetcar system was carrying up to 1,500,000 people annually. In 1914, the Charlottesville and Albemarle Railway Company, owners of the streetcar system, built its headquarters and power station at 300 West Main Street, now an office building. The streetcars continued to serve the West Main Street area until 1935, when rising costs and decreased ridership finally caused it to close.
With the Southern Railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio intersecting at West Main Street, Union Station was the stopping point for large numbers of passengers disembarking in Charlottesville during the heyday of passenger railroads. As a result, many of Charlottesville's largest and finest hotels were built along West Main Street. The Delevan Hotel was the first of the hotels. In 1889, The Gleason Hotel, later renamed the Albemarle Hotel, was built on West Main to accommodate the increasing number of travelers passing through Charlottesville. Originally boasting 40 rooms, the Hotel was expanded in 1896 through the construction of a much larger building next door. Until the construction of the downtown Monticello Hotel in 1926, the Gleason Hotel was the largest continuously operating hotel in Charlottesville. Another popular hotel was the Queen Charlotte, built on West Main just to the west of the railroad tracks. Until it was demolished in 1955, the Queen Charlotte was second in business only to the Albemarle Hotel along West Main. Other hotels that at one time operated along West Main Street included the Hotel Clermont, the Cabell House and the Dolly Madison Inn, all of which have since been demolished.
The introduction of the automobile helped bring about the next phase in the growth of the City of Charlottesville. West Main Street, the principal east-west route through town, became the location of most of the City's auto service businesses. The auto created greater accessibility to outerlying areas, and along with the extension of the streetcar line out Rugby Road and Jefferson Park Avenue, helped open up areas north and south of the University of Virginia to suburban expansion. "Four Acres," built in 1910 at 1314 Rugby Road, dates from this period.
The few industrial structures included in the Charlottesville Multiple Resource Area are representative of the economic evolution of the City. The building at 700 Harris Street was originally built in 1889 as a knitting factory; textiles during this period being a principle industry in the area. The Woolen Mills, a historically significant industrial building adjacent to the Charlottesville City limits in Albemarle County, is another excellent example of an early textile mill. While this building cannot be included in this nomination, the Woolen Mills Chapel, built by the mill for its workers, is representative of the dependent structures that were put up surrounding this factory during its heyday.
Much of central Charlottesville's historic background is intertwined with the history of the City's black population. Since the Civil War most of the neighborhoods surrounding West Main Street have traditionally been the heart of the City's black community. In 1865, the first school for newly freed slaves was established at "Mudwall," the old Delevan Hotel and hospital. Mudwall was also the site of the first political meeting in Charlottesville in which blacks actively participated (1867). The Delevan Hotel was eventually torn down and replaced in 1883 by the First Baptist Church, still being used at 632 West Main Street. The First Baptist Church is one of four long-standing black churches in the West Main Street area. Its congregation was originally formed from the ranks of 800 black Baptists dismissed from Charlottesville's established churches in 1864. The oldest black church in Charlottesville is the Mount Zion Baptist Church at 105 Ridge Street, built in 1878. Formed in 1867, the Mount Zion congregation has had only twelve ministers in its 113 year history. Two other churches, the Ebenezer Baptist Church (113 Sixth Street) and the Bethel Baptist Church at 501 Commerce Street are other major black churches in the West Main Street area.
The principal black commercial center in Charlottesville was Vinegar Hill. Named after either the famed "Vinegar Hill" in Ireland or the fact that many of the hill's early merchants smuggled whiskey in barrels marked "vinegar," Vinegar Hill's black businesses served Charlottesville from the early 1870's to the mid-1960's. Black business in the area was in its prime in the years just before the Great Depression. In the early 1930's at least 24 black-owned businesses operated in the 200 and 300 blocks of West Main Street. While many of these businesses were of the barber and bootblack variety, West Main Street was also the home of many of Charlottesville's black doctors. Many of the buildings that housed black business along West Main are now gone. Some structures on the 300 block still remain, including Inge's Grocery, until recently the oldest black owned business in Charlottesville. Inge's Grocery, in a building constructed in 1820, had been in continuous operation since 1891. Booker T. Washington was a frequent guest of the Inge family. Thomas Inge, the current proprietor, remembers that Vinegar Hill was not as rowdy a place as history has led many to believe. Mr. Inge often had more problems with rambunctious students celebrating a University of Virginia football victory than he had with some of the more notorious tenants of Vinegar Hill.
Major Bibliographical References
Central Piedmont Urban Observatory. West Main Street, Charlottesville, Virginia, Present Conditions and Future Prospects. 1977.
Charlottesville City Directory. Richmond: Hill Directory Company, 1910, 1931, 1934, 1938, 1940, 1945, 1951.
Charlottesville Department of Community Development. Historic Landmarks Study, Charlottesville, Virginia. Charlottesville, Virginia: The Michie Company, 1976.
Charlottesville Department of Community Development. "Historic Surveys Outside Historic District". Unpublished Manuscript.
Daily Progress. "Charlottesville's Bicentennial, 1762-1962." 200th Anniversary Program.
Gemmill, Chalmers L., M.D. "The Charlottesville General Hospital 1861-1865." The Magazine of Albemarle County History. Vol. 22, 1963-1964.
"Give Sacajawea Statue Second Look". Charlottesville Daily Progress. February 9, 1975.
Heblich, F. T. and Walter, C. C. Holsinger's Charlottesville. Charlottesville, Virginia: Batt, Bates and Company, 1976.
Irwin, Marjorie F. "The Negro in Charlottesville and Albemarle," Master's Thesis #342, University of Virginia, 1929.
Jones, Newton. "Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia 1819-1860". Ph. D. dissertation, 1950.
Kean, Randolph. "Early Street Railways and the Development of Charlottesville." The Magazine of Albemarle County History. Vol 33-34, pp. 1-52.
Kuranda, Kate and Lang-Kumner, Karen. Significance Statement to the Charlottesville Historic District; November, 1980.
Moore, John Hammond. Albemarle, Jefferson's County, 1727-1976. Charlottesville, Virginia: University of Virginia Press, 1976.
Rawlings, Mary; ed. Early Charlottesville, Recollections of James Alexander, 1828-1874. Charlottesville, Virginia: The Michie Company, 1963.
"Vinegar Hill History Full of Fight and Fire". Charlottesville Daily Progress, December 8, 1958.
Warwick, A. B. Reminiscences of Charlottesville. Charlottesville, 1929.
Watts, Charles W. "Colonial Albemarle: The Social and Economic History of a Piedmont Virginia County, 1727-1775." Thesis, University of Virginia, 1948.
Webb, William E. "Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia, 1865-1900." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Virginia, 1955.
Whately, Walter, ed. A Handbook Descriptive of Albemarle County Including City of Charlottesville. Charlottesville, 1907.
Wilson, Harry. "Businesses on Main Street in Charlottesville, Virginia When the W. E. Wilson Family Came Here in 1909." Unpublished Listing. Available from Albemarle County Historical Society.
Woods, Rev. Edgar. Albemarle County in Virginia. Charlottesville, 1901.
Works Progress Administration. Jefferson's Albemarle: A Guide to Albemarle County and the City of Charlottesville. Virginia. Charlottesville. 1941.
Information was obtained from interviews done by the City of Charlottesville's Retired Senior Volunteer Program's Vinegar Hill oral listing project. The person's who were interviewed in the Fall of 1979: Thomas Inge: Owner of Inge's Grocery, 333 West Main Street; Price Bibb; George Ferguson; Charles Johnson
‡ Adapted from: Charlottesville Department of Community Development, Charlottesville Virginia MRA, nomination document, 1981, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
Nearby Towns: Charlotte City •