Speakers <em><strong>Series</strong></em>



The Jefferson Theater, 1936. Built in 1901 as the Jefferson National Bank on East Main Street (today’s Downtown Mall), the Jefferson was enlarged and converted into a theater in 1912. Owners completely rebuilt the building just three years later after a tragic fire. A combination silent movie house and vaudeville stage, the Jefferson was host to a number of popular films and performers over the years, including magician Harry Houdini. Other downtown movie theaters followed: the Lafayette (1921), which is now the site of York Place Shops and Apartments; the Paramount (1931); Vinegar Hill (1976); and the University Theater at the Corner (1938-1990). After struggling under various names for many years as a second-run movie theater, the Jefferson was sold to music promoter Coran Capshaw in 2006, who launched a multi-million dollar renovation project and has since reopened the historic venue as a live music hall. The marquee in this photo advertises the 1936 release The Trail of the Lonesome Pine starring Fred MacMurray and Henry Fonda, one of Hollywood’s first successful color films. (courtesy of the Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia).

Learning Was Never More Fun!

In addition to unique, special events at which we host guest speakers, we annually offer two full Speakers Series from September through May. All of these events are free and open to the public. No tickets or reservations are required. Our Speakers Series are intended to thoughtfully engage guests by reflecting on events, issues and personalities from the history of our region. Our speakers are all experienced scholars, historians, journalists, authors, and experts in their fields. All of the speakers typically offer a PowerPoint-styled presentation with archival photos, videos or more. Each talk is followed by a brief question & answer period. Each event typically lasts no more than 90 minutes. A full schedule and the latest updates are available below as well as on our Calendar, on the Blog and on Facebook.

Speakers Series: Past Series

The Third Fridays Series

At 7pm on the third Friday of each month throughout the academic school year (except December), we host an evening of history. The “Third Fridays” series is held at City Space on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall (second floor of the Market Street Parking Garage). Like all events in our Speakers Series, these evenings are entirely free and open to all. No tickets or reservations are required. Seating is limited so please arrive early. Check out the schedule listing below for the confirmed 2018-2019 Third Fridays line-up. For the latest updates please check out our Calendar, read the Blog, and follow us on Facebook.

<strong>September 2018</strong> <br />Historic African-American Portraits
September 21, 7pm. University of Virginia scholar, photographer and artist John Mason will explore the captivating turn-of-the-20th century portraits of African-American men, women and children here in Charlottesville by photographer Rufus Holsinger. He will share a number of archival photos and discuss what we can learn from them today.
<strong>October 2018</strong> <br />The Classical Architecture of Jefferson Country
October 19, 7pm. Renowned architectural historian and scholar K. Edward Lay will explore the historic architecture of Albemarle and Charlottesville, with a focus on the Jeffersonian classical properties throughout the region.
<strong>November 2018</strong> <br />The Storied History of Charlottesville's Jews
November 16, 7pm. Historian Phyllis Leffler explores the history of the Jewish community in Charlottesville, from the 18th century to today. She discusses the earliest Jewish families and merchants, including David Isaacs and Nancy West who helped to make Main Street the epicenter of commercial life in the region. She looks at the founding of the Synagogue; the civic and economic roles of Jewish leaders; the coming of Eastern European Jews in the 20th century; and connects the dots between those stories and the events of August 2017 in Charlottesville.
<strong>January 2019</strong> <br />The Making of Copeley Hill: Public Housing in Charlottesville After WWII

January 18, 7pm. Daniel Bluestone, Professor of Architectural History and Director of the Preservation Studies Program at Boston University, will join us for a fascinating evening to explore the story of public housing in Charlottesville in the 20th century.. After World War II the United States federal government picked up and relocated 250,000 units of temporary housing it had earlier constructed at military bases and armament plants.  Over 125,000 of these units assumed a new “temporary” identity on 720 college and university campuses where they accommodated veterans taking advantage of the educational benefits provided by 1944 Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, popularly known as the G.I Bill.  This program is an architectural representation of the words of the prophet Isaiah: “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Daniel Bluestone, is Professor of History of Art and Architecture and Director, of the BU Preservation Studies Program.  In twenty years of teaching and working in preservation in Charlottesville and at the University of Virginia, Bluestone wrote prize-winning articles and books touching on key aspects of Charlottesville history— ranging from parks to memorials to residential design, to the form and operations of the Charlottesville’s red light district.  He has worked on historic preservation and community revitalization projects in Charlottesville, China, Iraq, and across the United States.

<strong>February 2019</strong> <br />Founding of UVA: The Real Story

February 15, 7pm. Author and historian Coy Barefoot offers an engaging and thoughtful look at the founding of the University of Virginia — which was chartered by an act of the General Assembly exactly 200 years ago this month. Barefoot offers the comprehensive “back story” to UVA: from the political intrigue to the financing challenges to the personalities. This is a popular lecture that Barefoot has been asked to give to alumni groups across the country. He shares a number of fascinating items about the history of UVA that most people don’t know.

<strong>March 2019</strong> <br />The Making of the Downtown Mall
March 15, 7pm. Architectural historian Sarita Herman will take us on a deep dive into the history of the making of Charlottesville’s now iconic Downtown Mall. She connects the dots from “urban renewal” of the early 1960s, the razing of the Vinegar Hill neighborhood, and the then highly controversial plans to turn Charlottesville’s Main Street into a pedestrian mall in the 1970s. What might all this mean for Charlottesville development today? This lecture will include many seldom-seen archival photos and film.
<strong>April 2019</strong> <br />Eugenics at the University of Virginia
April 19, 7pm. Medical historian Preston Reynolds explores the controversial and little-known story of eugenics at the University of Virginia. Beginning in the early 20th century, UVA became one of the nation’s leading scholarly institutions to champion the false and racist science of eugenics. Led by the university’s first President, Edwin Alderman, the eugenics movement informed the work of numerous departments at the university, not the least of which was the Medical School. It has been noted that the work of eugenicists at the University of Virginia in particular even inspired the horrors of Nazis in Germany.
<strong>May 2019</strong> <br />Education and the American Republic
May 17, 7pm. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian of the University of Virginia, Alan Taylor will lecture and discuss his most recent research into the history of education in the early American Republic and how it evolved into the 19th century at places like UVA and the College of William and Mary.

The Community Series

Each month from September through May (except December), we offer a unique, free lecture in different locations throughout Albemarle and Charlottesville. This “traveling” series is hosted in various communities, from Crozet to Keswick, offering a wonderful opportunity to explore and learn more about the history of Central Virginia. No tickets or reservations are required. Our speakers are all established scholars in their fields, and will most often offer PowerPoint-styled presentations with archival photos. Each event typically lasts under 90 minutes. See below for the updated Community Speakers Series. You can also check the Calendar, read the Blog and follow us on Facebook for updates. The 2018-2019 Community Speakers Series is made possible thanks to the generous support of Mary Loose Deviney and Tuel Jewelers on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall.
<strong>September 2018</strong><br />20th Century Charlottesville
October 12, Friday, 630pm at City Space on the Downtown Mall. Best-selling author and historian Coy Barefoot will lecture about various topics in the 20th century history of Charlottesville: including a look at development, the making of the Downtown Mall, and the Civil Rights Movement. He’ll explore the story of “Massive Resistance” in Charlottesville, “urban renewal” and the razing of the Vinegar Hill neighborhood, and connect the dots to today. His presentation will include numerous seldom seen photos and films. (please note that this talk had originally been scheduled for mid September but was moved to October 12 due to inclement weather).
<strong>October 2018</strong><br />The Irish and the Railroad
October 6, Saturday 1pm at the Crozet Library. Author and historian Mary Lyons will offer an engaging lecture on the story of Irish immigration to the Central Virginia region in the mid 19th century and their efforts to build the railroad through Albemarle and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Mary will also discuss her latest research regarding the history of enslaved labor on the railroad.
<strong>November 2018</strong><br /> An Evening with Peter Hatch
November 9, Friday 7pm at City Space on the Downtown Mall. Celebrated author, historian and gardener Peter Hatch will offer a fascinating look at his career and thoughts about the historic landscape of Central Virginia. Hatch is best known for having been the Director of Gardens and Grounds at Monticello for many decades. He has written several books on Thomas Jefferson’s gardens and was an advisor for First Lady Michelle Obama’s White House kitchen garden. This is a rare opportunity to engage with one of the world’s foremost gardeners.
<strong>January 2019</strong> <br />Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village

January 26, Saturday. Join us for a special afternoon with scholar, author and acclaimed architectural historian Richard Guy Wilson for an exclusive, in-depth look at Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village at the University of Virginia. Our afternoon will begin at 1pm in Room 158 at Campbell Hall when Professor Wilson will offer an in-class lecture and discussion about Jefferson’s architecture. We’ll follow that up around 230p on Grounds as Professor Wilson personally guides us down the Lawn into the historic heart of UVA. This is an incredibly rare opportunity to spend time with one of the nation’s preeminent authorities on the architecture of Thomas Jefferson and the fascinating story of the University of Virginia. Parking is available in the Culbreth Road Parking Garage (just across the road from Campbell Hall where we will begin at 1p) or in the Fralin Museum Parking Lot, across Rugby Road at the north end of Mad Bowl.

<strong>February 2019</strong> <br />The Carr/Greer Home
February 10, Sunday 2pm-4pm at the Ivy Creek Natural Area. Offered in collaboration with the Ivy Creek Foundation, this event will explore the 19th century Carr/Greer home in Albemarle County. Believed to have been built by Hugh Carr in the early 1880s, this residence was later the home of his eldest daughter Mary Carr Greer and her family. Mrs. Greer was a celebrated teacher at the nearby Albemarle Training School. Historical archaeologist Steve Thompson and the Foundation’s Liz Sargent will talk about the history of the home and the family’s leading role in the African-American community in Albemarle County.
<strong>March 2019</strong> <br />Zion Hill Baptist Church
March 16, Saturday 1pm at the Zion Hill Baptist Church in Keswick. Associate Minister Carolyn Dillard will be joined by Monticello’s Niya Bates, a life-long fellow church member, as they guide guests through the fascinating story of Zion Hill and the African-American community of eastern Albemarle County. The Zion Hill faith community has its origins as a prayer meeting that formed in the wake of the Civil War. It has shaped the lives of generations of families, and continues into the 21st century as an important center of community life in our region. We will be honored to be guests at Zion Hill and look forward to learning more.
<strong>April 2019</strong> <br />The Crozet Story
April 13, Saturday 1pm at the Crozet Library. Engaging local historian Phil James will share a treasure trove of rarely seen historic photos of the town of Crozet and Western Albemarle County. He will discuss the rich history of Crozet and the region.
<strong>May 2019</strong> <br />Rediscovering James Monroe
May 11, Saturday 1pm at James Monroe’s Highland. Of the three founding Presidents of the American Republic who called Central Virginia home, James Monroe remains something of a mystery. We know much more about Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, while Monroe and his fundamental role in forming the American nation are very deserving of a thoughtful reconsideration. We will gather at his historic homesite, Highland, and talk with Executive Director Sara Bon-Harper about how she and her team are working on multiple fronts to create a new and deeper understanding of James Monroe.

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