The Summer <em><strong>Conversation</strong></em>



The University Movie Theater in June 1949. Photo by Ed “Flash” Roseberry (b. 1925). The University Theater opened at 1325 West Main Street near the UVA Corner on Friday night, September 30, 1938 and didn’t close until the summer of 1990, when the facility was converted into shops and apartments. The movie marquee in this photo reads “Arthur and McCrae, The More the Merrier,” a 1943 comedy starring Jean Arthur and Joel McCrae. Beyond the theater you can also see an Amoco and Esso gas station as well as signs for Bradley Peyton’s Pontiac/Cadillac Dealership— all of which was later torn down to make way for a Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge, which opened in April 1967 and in the summer of 1996 became a Red Roof Inn, and is now The Graduate Hotel.

Exploring the Future of the Past

Each year we host a community event to explore ways in which our shared past can inform important conversations in which we are engaged today. A panel of experts engages with the public in thoughtful discussion. Our hope is to use history as a tool to enrich our lives today, to create the opportunities for new relationships, to make our community and neighborhoods stronger. We launched the Summer Conversation event in 2018 in partnership with Light House Studio, exploring the history of Vinegar Hill, the making of the Downtown Mall, and the connections between those chapters in our story and critical issues today: race and place, design and development, economic opportunity, public housing and more. The event was held at the historic Vinegar Hill Theatre downtown. A production team from Light House recorded the event in full, which will be shared online and broadcast on TV in Charlottesville. Like all our public events, no tickets or reservations are required.

The Summer Conversation 2018

Former Charlottesville Mayor Charles Barbour, who provided instrumental leadership during the effort to build the Downtown Mall in the mid 1970s, and City Councilor Kathleen Galvin who has championed a new approach to design and development in Charlottesville that is focused more on bringing neighborhoods together and creating more walkable communities. (photos by Bill Emory)

City Councilor Wes Bellamy with historian and author Brendan Wolfe of the Encyclopedia Virginia at Virginia Humanities.
Charlottesville entrepreneur, business and community leader Yolunda Armstrong Harrell.
City Councilor Wes Bellamy with former Charlottesville Mayor Charles Barbour.
Historian and author Coy Barefoot, Director of the Charlottesville Center for History and Culture: Home of the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society.
Architect Michael Wheelwright was a member of Lawrence Halprin’s design team in San Francisco in the 1970s when they were designing a new plan for downtown Charlottesville, only part of which was the pedestrian mall.
Architectural historian Sarita Herman, whose published research on the history of the making of Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall inspired this event, and former Mayor Charles Barbour.
Former Charlottesville Mayor Frank Buck.
Charlottesville business owner and community leader Quinton Harrell.
The Summer Conversation July 24, 2018 at the Vinegar Hill Theater in downtown Charlottesville. From left to right: Sarita Herman, Charles Barbour, Kathy Galvin, Wes Bellamy, Brendan Wolfe, Yolunda Armstrong Harrell, and Shelley Murphy.

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