Category Archives: History

Albemarle schools to review name of Meriwether Lewis Elementary School

An elementary school in Ivy is the latest in Albemarle County to go through the process of determining whether its name is appropriate in the 21st Century. A committee is being formed to review whether Meriwether Lewis Elementary should continue to be named after the 19th century American explorer. 

“This is a great opportunity for Meriwether Lewis Elementary School families to gain a greater understanding of their school’s namesake and to build community in the process,” said Karen Waters, the director of community education for Albemarle County Public Schools. 

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Charlottesville marks 100 years of city-manager form of government

On this day 100 years ago, a three-person Charlottesville City Council sat for the first time in a new term and soon afterward appointed Boyd A. Bennett to serve as the first city manager. Bennett had been the public works director in Lynchburg, according to an account in the Alexandria Gazette at the time. 

Since that time, just under a dozen people have held the position, which serves as the chief executive officer of the city government under the supervision of the elected Council. Bennett only lasted two years but his successors all had longer terms including that of James Bowen, who served from 1948 to 1970, followed by Cole Hendrix who would hold the job for nearly 25 years. 

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BAR conditionally approves demolition of downtown Charlottesville building

The Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review has approved the demolition of a former gas station on West Market Street that has been the home of Brown’s Lock and Safe, but it will take some time before the structure is removed. 

“Built in 1935 and was renovated sometime in the mid 1960’s,” said Jeff Werner, the city’s historic preservation planner. 

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Albemarle Economic Development Authority supports two grants

This week, the Albemarle Economic Development Authority offered financial support to grants already received by local nonprofits. In many cases involving state or federal programs, large awards require some local money in the form of matching grants. 

The Bridge PAI has received a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for a project called Unsettling Grounds that will reexamine space in the Broadway corridor that has been studied by the county as an area for economic development. The EDA will contribute $5,000 to the project. 

“The idea of the title Unsettled Grounds is a project that uses some experimental methods to try and create monuments and works by and for Black, indigenous, and low-income artists, supporting them their artistic endeavors,” said Jay Simple, the executive director of the Bridge Performing Arts Initiative. 

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Preservation Piedmont seeking applications for funding

An area nonprofit that seeks to draw attention to historic buildings and advocates for their preservation is seeking applicants for grants. Preservation Piedmont is offering up to $3,000 in funding for research, documentation, interpretation, and articles about historic places. 

“Proposals will be considered from individuals, organizations, and/or localities from the following: City of Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle, Buckingham, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, and Orange,” reads a section of the Preservation Piedmont website

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Historical Marker unveiled at Central Library for crucial desegregation case

A crowd assembled yesterday afternoon at the intersection of East Market Street and 3rd Street NW in downtown Charlottesville to watch the unveiling of a historic marker to commemorate an important moment in the desegregation of education in Virginia. In 1950, Gregory Swanson applied to attend the University of Virginia School of Law, but he was denied a space because he was Black. He sued in federal court citing 14th Amendment rights to equal protection, and a three-panel judge heard arguments on September 5 that year. 

David Plunkett is the director of the Jefferson Madison Regional Library, and he noted the historic nature of the building that is the library system’s headquarters.

“This building is formerly a federal building and home to the courtroom where Gregory Swanson won his legal petition for entry into the University of Virginia law school,” Plunkett said.     

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