C’ville Through the Years

Main & Ridge St

Information provided by City Interns, Preston Coiner,  The Daily Progress, and Citizens for a United Community


  • Saponi Tribe migrates to North Carolina


  • Jan 25 – Dr. Thomas Walker, later of Castle Hill, was born.


  • The first European settlers in Albemarle County


  • Apr 13 – Thomas Jefferson was born at Shadwell.


  • The General Assembly creates Albemarle County out of a portion of Goochland County.  The new county is named Albemarle in honor of William Anne Keppel, second earl of Albemarle and Colonial governor.


  • The General Assembly, in response to an expanding population, separates two new counties, Amherst and Buckingham, from Albemarle. The James River, previously the main conduit for transportation and commerce, becomes Albemarle County’s southern boundary.


  • The General Assembly establishes Charlottesville as the Albemarle County seat.  Charlottesville, laid out on a grid, is named in honor of Queen Charlotte, wife of King George, III.
  • Dec 23 – The town of Charlottesville was established.


  • Jan 16 – The first Revolutionary War prisoners arrived at the Barracks near Charlottesville.
  • Four thousand English and German prisoners of the Revolutionary War are imprisoned in barracks in Charlottesville, hence the name Barracks Road and various local “Hessian” references.
  • Apr 21, Albemarle County renounced all ties to King George III


  • Charlottesville was briefly the capital of Virginia.
  • June 3 – Capt. John “Jack” Jouett rode to Monticello from Cuckoo  to warn Thomas Jefferson of a British approach.
  • Jouett also warns the General Assembly, meeting in Charlottesville, of an impeding raid by the British army.  The assembly reconvenes in Staunton.


  • Thomas Jefferson was elected President of the US.
  • June 2 – Nicholas Trist, author of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago, was born in Charlottesville
  • 1800’s – more than half of the population of 20,000in Albemarle County were slave; fewer that 400 were free blacks


  • Jan 11 – President Thomas Jefferson appointed James Monroe as special envoy to France.


  • Oct 6 – The corner stone was laid at the Central College, which became the University of Virginia.


  • Thomas Jefferson founds the University of Virginia


  • Jan 29  – The first issue of the first newspaper of Charlottesville, The Central Gazette, was published


  • Nov 5 – The Marquis de Lafayette visited Charlottesville.


  • The University of Virginia opens for classes with eight faculty members and 68 students.


  • Christ Episcopal Church becomes Charlottesville’s first consecrated church. Religious services had been held in the Albemarle County Courthouse.
  • Feb 14  – Edgar Allen Poe enrolled at the University of Virginia
  • July 4 – Thomas Jefferson died at Monticello.


  • Maplewood Cemetery on Lexington Ave. was established.
  • Mar 2  – The Rivanna Navigation Company was chartered to build a canal from Moore’s Creek to James River.


  • The approximate population of Charlottesville was 1,500.
  • UVa purchased a slave Lewis Commodore for $582; to serve as bell ringer and janitor


  • The first commercial bank, a branch of the Farmers Bank of Virginia was established in Charlottesville.


  • Louisa Railroad Co., a predecessor of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, arrives in Charlottesville.  The railroad connects to the Shenandoah Valley in 1858.


  • Dec 16 – The Richmond and Charlottesville Turnpike Company was chartered.


  • Mar 29 – University of Virginia student, and future Civil War hero,  John Singleton Mosby was arrested for shooting a fellow student.


  • Feb 25  – The first mayoral election was held in Charlottesville, Drury Wood won with 75 votes


  • Mar 18 – The Charlottesville and University Gas-Light Corporation was chartered.
  • May 12 – Charlottesville’s first fire company was organized.


  • May 9 – The Monticello Guard military unit was organized.

186?- Anna Gardener establishes Jefferson Training School;


  • Apr 17 – Virginia seceded from the Union.


  • The Southern Railroad, running on a north-south route, arrives in Charlottesville, intersecting the previous railway line midway between downtown and UVa.  The arrival of the railroads cements the area as a commercial hub.
  • Black and white members of First Baptist Church (established in 1831) separate into two congregations
  • Emancipation Proclamation; blacks begin moving to Vinegar Hill;


  • Jun 11-12  – The Battle of Trevilian Station, one of the largest cavalry battles of the Civil War, was fought.

1865-1870 – Charlottesville governed by Union military commanders


  • Mar 3 – The Union Army under Sheridan and Custer occupied Charlottesville.
  • 15,000 blacks freed from slavery


  • First meeting of blacks and whites at the Delevan Building; Fairfax Taylor who had purchased his freedom many years earlier advocated fighting for all rights and privileges enjoyed by whites;


  • July 1 – The Alexander Galt statue of Thomas Jefferson at the Rotunda was dedicated.
  • Dec 18 – The Charlottesville Woolen Mills received its charter to operate.


  • Virginia General Assembly elections included 27 African-Americans of the 180 new members;


  • Virginia was readmitted to the Union.
  • The University of Virginia’s first football game was played.


  • The first public school in Charlottesville opened.


  • Charlottesville’s Hose, Hook and Ladder Fire Company was established.


  • The first hospital in Charlottesville, Piedmont Hospital, was established.


  • Mar 30 – The Charlottesville and University Street Railway Company was chartered.
  • June 14 – Horse drawn streetcar service began in Charlottesville.


  • Charlottesville incorporates as a City by charter of the General Assembly.
  • Anderson Bros. bookstore  is reputed to have had the first commercial use telephone in Charlottesville.
  • September 18 – The City purchased  property at the corner of High and Fifth Street NE for its first City Hall.


  • George P. Inge opened his grocery store call Inge’s Grocery at 333 West Main Street
  • Not one African-American remained in either house of the state legislature.


  • The Daily Progress newspaper begin publication in Charlottesville.
  • Feb 2 – A  fire destroyed the Stables and Car Barn of the Street Railway Company.


  • Apr 2 – Frederick Douglass lectured at the First Baptist Church on West Main Street.


  • Stanford White was the architect for the rebuilding of the Rotunda after the  fire.
  • July 9 – The first motorized streetcar went into service in Charlottesville.
  • Oct 27 – The Rotunda at the University of Virginia was destroyed by fire.


  • July 31, Horse drawn streetcar service was discontinued.


  • Feb 11 – A blizzard buried the City under 20 foot snowdrifts.


  • Virginia Conference of Colored Men met at Oddfellows’ Hall in Charlottesville to discuss methods of protest against African-American disfranchisement in upcoming Constitutional Convention; [the group became The Virginia (or Negro) Educational and Industrial Association


  • Paul Brandon Barringer, chairman of the U.Va. faculty,  argues in his lectures that Blacks are biologically inferior, and must be in a restrictive environment and educated to “know their place.”


  • The University of Virginia Hospital was established.


  • June 16 – President Theodore Roosevelt spoke at the University of Virginia.


  • July 11 – The Martha Jefferson Hospital opened.
  • Sept 1 – Edwin Alderman become the first President of the University of Virginia.


  • Feb 10 – The last person to be legally hung in Charlottesville was former Mayor Samuel McCue.


  • First automobile, a Stanley Steamer, arrives in Charlottesville.
  • Apr 1 – The Charlottesville Post Office and Federal Building opened, with the Post Office on the main floor and the court house on the seond. The original building is now home to the Central Branch of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library.


  • African-American registered voters doubled since the previous year to 135; white registered voters declined to 659


  • The Confederate Monument at Court Square was dedicated.
  • Feb 3 – The Gem Moving Picture House opened at 201 West Main Street.


  • The census population of Charlottesville was 6,765.


  • Apr 6 –  The first airplane flight at University of Virginia’s Lambeth Field.
  • June 1 – Drivers were required to start getting a permit to operate an auto on city streets.
  • Oct 21 – The Jefferson Theatre opened.


  • Charlottesville’s first Country Club, The Lodge, was constructed on Rugby Road.


  • Charlottesville’s first paved road was East High Street.


  • Nov 21, The Lewis and Clark Statue on Main Street was dedicated.


  • The City Manager form of government was approved in Charlottesville.
  • The census population of Charlottesville was 10,688.
  • Three Charlottesville African-American women were successful in registering to vote; [Mrs. Maggie P. Burley, Mamie J. Farwell, and Mrs. Alice Grady]


  • May 30  – The Charlottesville Public Library opened with 5,000 books and the help of Paul Goodloe McIntire


  • Jan 6 – The Lafayette Theatre opened (York Place)
  • May 31 – The McIntire Amphitheatre at the University of Virginia was dedicated.
  • Oct 19 – The Stonewall Jackson statue in Jackson Park was dedicated.
  • Nov 2 – The statue of George Rogers Clark near the University of Virginia was dedicated


  • August  21 – The Charlottesville Municipal Band was formally organized
  • Republican Congressional Convention held in Luray proclaiming itself a “lily-white” party, refused to seat African-American delegates from Charlottesville


  • May 28 – The first Charlottesville Municipal Band performance.


  • May 21 – The Robert E. Lee statue in Lee Park was dedicated.


  • Jefferson School expanded to include high school


  • The first traffic lights start operating in Charlottesville.


  • May 3 – The first moving picture “talkie” was shown in Charlottesville.


  • The census population of Charlottesville was 15,245.


  • Nov 25  – The Paramount Theater opened for business on eve of Thanksgiving


  • May 30 –  Streetcar service in Charlottesville was discontinued.


  • State legislature passes a bill to provide tuition grants for Black Virginians studying at Northern Universities.  The bill allows UVa. to enforce segregation while still complying with the “separate but equal doctrine.


  • June 13 –  Alderman Library at the University of Virginia was dedicated.


  • The first parking meters are installed in Charlottesville.


  • The census population of Charlottesville was 19,400.
  • Apr 4 – The Albemarle County Historical Society held its first meeting.
  • June 10 – President Franklin Roosevelt spoke at the University of Virginia Commencement Exercises
  • August 30 – Lane High School on McIntire Road was dedicated.


  • Air raid warning signals are placed on top of the Monticello Hotel and elsewhere in the city in March.
  • Mar 20 – Charlottesville scheduled a city wide black out to conserve resources and materials.


  • July 30 – The Coast Guard frigate the USS Charlottesville was christened.


  • The Charlottesville City Council approves its first annual budget over $1 million.


  • The census population of Charlottesville was 25,969.
  • Gregory Swanson filed a suit against UVa for their refusal to admit him to the Law School.


  • Oct 28 – The Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport received its license to operate.


  • The Charlottesville Albemarle Airport was dedicated.
  • Brown v. Board of Education establishes that segregation violates the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • Charlottesville City Council establishes the Housing Authority to deal with “shortage of safe and sanitary building accommodations” in the city.


  • January 10th: all signs in Charlottesville denoting segregation were removed from drinking fountains, waiting rooms and bathroom facilities.


  • Oct 4 – Last parade marking the Apple Harvest Festival occurs, the following April it became the Dogwood Festival.


  • Lane  High School and Venable Elementary School closed; Charlottesville School Board surrenders authority of Lane High School and Venable Elementary School to the Governor of Virginia.


  • Beginning of plans to remove Vinegar Hill residents to a near-by project site.
  • Survey indicates that 29 businesses in Vinegar Hill had combined gross income of 1.6 million.
  • Referendum on “renewal” of Vinegar Hill passed by City Council based on Title 36  of the Code of Virginia; the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority would level Vinegar Hill, the hub of the black community.


  • Sept 8 – Charlottesville Public Schools first opened to accept African American students.
  • 12 black students admitted to Lane and Venable.
  • High school students picket a store in the Barracks Road Shopping Center whose lunch counter was restricted to whites.


  • The census population of Charlottesville was 29,427.


  • Charlottesville celebrated its 200th anniversary.
  • July 9 – President John F. Kennedy sent the city of Charlottesville a telegram in honor of it’s 200th birthday.


  • Martin Luther King Jr. visits the University at invitation of the Jefferson Chapter of the Virginia Council on Human Relations.  A crowd fills Cabell Hall to hear King speak.  No administrator or student leader gives King an official welcome.
  • Small number of university faculty, community members and students participate in Charlottesville’s first sit-in at Buddy’s restaurant.  One faculty member is beaten and several protesters were arrested.


  • Mar 17  – Actor Rob Lowe was born in Charlottesville.


  • Demolition of Vinegar Hill completed: 29 black-owned businesses [grocery stores, restaurants, furniture stores, barbershops, antique shops, an insurance agency, a drug store, a shoe repair shop, and a hat cleaning establishment] had been disrupted;


  • The first Vietnam Memorial in the nation is established in Charlottesville in April.
  • Charlottesville Schools fully integrated.


  • Aug 19 – Hurricane Camille hit the Charlottesville area.
  • President Edgar F. Shannon Jr. appoints Associate Professor of English William Elwood as assistant for special programs in charge of UVa.’s desegregation efforts.


  • College of Arts and Sciences faculty adopts a new interdepartmental major in African-American Studies.  The Board of Visitors approves the new major.


  • UVa undergraduate admissions become fully open to women.
  • Marguerite’s Brothel at 303 Fifth Street SE was demolished.


  • Sep 3  – The first day of school at the newly built Charlottesville High School.
  • Jefferson School closed; [building used for a pre-school and other purposes until 2002]
  • Construction begins on Downtown Mall


  • Charlottesville native Roosevelt Brown Jr., an African-American,  was inducted into the National Football League Hall of Fame.


  • Elizabeth II, Queen of England, visited the University of Virginia and Monticello.
  • Charlottesville opens a pedestrian mall on a portion of Main Street.


  • UVa announces the creation of the Institute for Afro-American and African Studies, later  naming it after Carter G. Woodson, the Virginia-born scholar who founded what is known today as African-American History month.


  • The era of the milkman ends as the last home delivery in Charlottesville was made.


  • Dec 31 – The first year of First Night Virginia was celebrated in Charlottesville.


  • May 11 – The first performance by the Dave Matthews Band took place at a private party on the rooftop of the South Street Warehouse.
  • “The Road To Brown” a documentary on Charles Hamilton Houston produced by Bill Elwood aired on WHTJ.


  • Bill Clinton sits on the front porch of Monticello and holds a Q&A with schoolchildren during the first event of his presidential inauguration.


  • June 21 – The 1996 Olympic Torch passed through Charlottesville on it’s way to Altanta, the host of the 1996 Olympics.


  • CUC, Citizens for a United Community holds event conducting a dialogue on race:  Many Races–One Community at Buford School, April 12, 2003.


  • Charlottesville is named the No. 1 place to live in North America by the Frommer’s guidebook company.


  • UVa’s John Paul Jones Arena, the largest indoor arena in the state, opens.


  • President George W. Bush speaks at Monticello’s annual Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony.


  • The Downtown Mall holds a rededication ceremony after rebricking its pedestrian walkway.


  • John T. Casteen III retires as UVa’s president after 20 years.  Teresa A. Sullivan is named the university’s eighth president, the first woman to lead the school.
  • The Dialogue on Race began meeting.  The mission was to engage every segment of the Charlottesville community in an open, honest, on-going discussion of race, racism and diversity and to identify problems and propose concrete solutions and paths to action that promote racial reconciliation, economic justice and equity.