Rufus Holsinger (1866-1930) took this photo of “Midway” looking east on March 7, 1917. This part of town at the crest of Vinegar Hill along the historic Three Notch’d Road (later West Main Street) was known throughout the 19th and early 20th century as Midway or sometimes Midway Square (being roughly mid-way between the original downtown Charlottesville at Court Square and the University of Virginia, which opened March 7, 1825). This photo was taken two years before the Lewis, Clark, and Sacajawea statue was installed. The busy street trolley tracks are visible on the left, which covered much of Charlottesville from the 1880s to the 1930s. The 1894 Midway School is in the center (built on the site of the historic 1818 Midway Hotel). This school served the City’s white children, elementary through high school, while African-American children attended the nearby Jefferson School. A new McGuffey Graded School opened in 1916, and the Midway School thereafter became more commonly known as Lane High School, after teacher and school superintendent James Waller Lane. That school was replaced by the more modern Lane High School down the hill (today’s County Office Building), which opened in 1940 and was not replaced by today’s Charlottesville High School until 1974. The 1894 Midway School building later became municipal office space until 1966. The building was razed in 1973, and in 1977 became the site of the Midway Manor Senior Housing complex. (photo is courtesy of the Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia.


Sunset Over the University Pond

From the UVA Corks and Curls 1919

Posted on September 23, 2018

“S unset Over the University Pond,” from the University of Virginia yearbook, The Corks and Curls, 1919. Taken from Carr’s Hill looking west, this rare photograph captures an open body of water that was for many years an integral part of the University landscape. There is a large intramural athletic field on this site today. The water originates on Mount Jefferson (better known as Observatory Hill or “O Hill”), and follows Emmet Street as it flows north. Though the stream has mostly been diverted into underground culverts, it is still day-lighted in “The Dell” across from the UVA Bookstore and Parking Garage, in front of the Lambeth Dormitories, in the woods below the John Paul Jones Arena, and then reappears on the other side of Barracks Road behind a line of restaurants and fast food eateries.

The University dammed the creek in the 19th century to create this pond that would provide water (mostly in case of fire emergencies). In the 1800s the pond was a favorite ice skating spot for students and their dates. The pond was diverted into a reflecting pool when Memorial Gymnasium was built in 1924 (see image below). By the summer of 1952 that pool had become a “sunken mire,” full of carp, trash and floating beer cans, according to the student newspaper, Cavalier Daily. The reflecting pool was filled in and converted to a much-needed parking lot. In the 1919 photo of the pond, you can see Lewis Mountain in the distance, which had only recently become the site of a private residence in 1912 (“Onteora”), which tourists often mistake for Monticello. While that home is not visible in this photo, another home is: just across the pond you can make out another white house with columns that had just recently been built— which in 1936 became the home of UVA’s Alumni Hall.


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