Not Yet Historic Structures

In this week’s C-Ville Weekly, Will Goldsmith surveys Charlottesville’s not-yet-historic buildings from around town. It’s prompted by the city’s plan to track down individual historic properties around town and designate them as such. The list includes Kmart, Fry’s Spring Service Station, the old JNB at Barracks Road and the old Coke bottling plant, along with a mess of others. Bonus: great pictures by local photoblogger Eric Kelley.

18 thoughts on “Not Yet Historic Structures”

  1. It’s Ernie’s Fry Spring Garage, and I hope they get it. I know the owners would like to receive historic status so that they may get some assistance or something to fix up the place.

  2. When you put our K-Mart in the context of the push toward suburbia, I can see that. I wasn’t around then, but I’m told that the Hydraulic/29 intersection was pretty much the end of the world in the 1960s. So it at least has significance in the growth and urban planning of our city/county. Architecturally, it’s not an aesthetic gem, but it’d be interesting to know the history of retail structures as such.

  3. Here’s a similar cover story the Hook did awhile ago. What’s interesting here is that some of these buildings are now gone….including the one on the cover!

    Also, last year the local chapter of the AIA organized an exhibit called Hidden in Plain Sight: 150 Years of Architectural Design and Diversity in Central Virginia, which challenge the supremacy of Jeffersonian design in these parts.

  4. Thanks for the links, Mr. McNair. In other words, some people feel once something is built and some architects like it, it has to become “protected.”
    Also, I really can’t see why the Terraces has any acclaim. It’s just a hodge-podge of geometric shapes in some pseudo-Italian style. Tear it down any time.

  5. The two new downtown buildings mentioned, The Terraces (over Caspari) and Live Arts, are my two favorite new buildings also. I don’t know why. No accounting for taste I guess.

    It’s the badly executed neo-trad stuff that boils my goat. Darden School. Though I guess nothing is worse than Clemons. That was the nadir. Two decades later they built Bryan Hall (English Dept.), which looks good. I think.

  6. Well, I tried to comment earlier to correct my first comment but it got eaten. Here it is again: It is called Ernie’s Fry’s Spring Service Station, though usually the employees refer to it as Ernie’s Fry’s Spring Garage.

    It is a neat building.

  7. What in the world is historic about any of these properties? That they are old? People, you can already get historic federal and state tax credits without being officially designated “historic” by the City.

    Just because a property is old does not mean that it is historic. Odds are that if it is old, then it shoud be razed.

    This “historic” designation for several of these properties is highly likely to cause their real estate values to fall because so much of the value is tied up in the land. If you can’t get to your land and you are stuck with a two-story building in an area where everything planned is nine-stories, then this restricts the redevelopment potential.

  8. Are you kidding me?, the City knows it can not prohibit anyone from eventually demolishing any structure. The idea is to put all of the property in the City under design control and that can’t be done in Virginia unless the property is declared historic or is in an entrance corridor. That is why the City is stressing that the age of the structure is not important. The City is going to be re-built, but nothing will be built that does not suit City Hall.

  9. This is great news. I applaud the city for taking a look at what they already have versus lusting for new new new. I’d definitely second Colfer’s comment on the over-reliance on neo-traditional dreckitecture in Cville. Blech ptooie.

    Many of the cool funky buildings in Cville are what made me fall in love with this place many years ago, and I’d hate to see them torn down in order to build more dreary condos and office buildings. Love Mel’s, Spudnut, the old Holloway’s Vacuum place, Charlottesville Barber Shop, Bob’s Wheel Alignment, and all the buildings mentioned in the article (‘cept maybe Kmart, even though I “get” why it’s included).

    Give me a building that’s a bit worn around the edges but has human (humane) scale, and undeniable heart and soul, over a Lewis & Clark Square any day. And if you’re going to build something new, make it sing– like the Terraces or Live Arts.

    What happened to the Compton House was a tragedy. But I’m somewhat heartened that the city is responding to that untimely loss by taking a long hard look at some of our existing architectural resources.

  10. someone said: “People, you can already get historic federal and state tax credits without being officially designated “historic” by the City.”

    True, but your building or neighborhood would need to be on the state/national historic register, right?

  11. Bill is right, but getting national and state recognition does not depend upon local recognition. So, everybody’s right.

  12. Bill: no.

    Eye: you bring up an interesting topic. Can the city prohibit demolition of buildings that the city designates as historic? Answer: they can try. If the city designates your building as historic and tells you that you cannot tear it down that is absolutely false. There are ways around it. For instance, you can list the property for sale at market value for a specified period of time and if you have not received an offer at market value over the allotted period then then you can tear it down. I would have to look up the specifics to be exact and there are several rules that you must follow. The only problem is that I do not know of anyone who has done this and I’m sure the city would fight you until you are broke.

  13. Are you kidding me?, Sec. 34-277. Certificates of appropriateness; demolitions and removals and the next section of the city’s code governs this. The building on the corner of Water and 2nd Street SW was completely demolished by the City’s permission and the Woolworth’s building, the Boxer building and the building besides First Baptist Church at 7th and Main, for all intents and purposes have been granted demolition permits. Also, I believe a cottage at 409 Ridge Street was demolished (after the tree fell into the main house). I believe the Peyton Pontiac Cadillac building on 9th and W. Main was considered contributing but I’m not sure. I also think that section of the old Albemarle Hotel Building that once housed the Gaslight Restaurant was approved for demolition after going under “protection.” The facade of the building close to the Discovery Museum was completely demolished and re-built with salvaged brick from some where else I’ve heard. It is also interesting that the City did not say publicly to my knowledge that a developer could not move several structures from Wertland Street in order to preserve them. That will really be interesting. Oh, weren’t some structures where the hotel is near University Baptist? Will welcome comments on all of these examples because I really don’t want to take the time to verify.

  14. Are You Kidding Me:

    Okay, we’ll bite. Please tell us how you get federal and state historic tax credits without any historic designation by the city, state, or federal government.

  15. Eye: I could not get the link to work.

    On tax credits: Well I think I was at least partialy wrong, sorry. A property does not have to be listed on the Federal or State Registers.

    From the Department of Historic Resources webpage:

    Under the federal program, a certified historic structure is one that is either:

    • Individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places, or
    • Certified as contributing to a district that is so listed

    Under the state program, a certified historic structure is one that is:

    • Individually listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register, or
    • Certified as eligible for listing, or
    • Certified as a contributing structure in a district that is so listed.

  16. Sorry, apparently the page has been moved but use the portal at and click on the link in the body that says “Click here.” Once there, use the left side panel to navigate to Chapter 34.
    “A property does not have to be listed on the Federal or State Registers.” remove the word “not.”

  17. I am glad this new list has surfaced. It shows that a structure does not have to be considered “old” to be considered “historic” according to Charlottesville’s code. Most people including Council do not understand that the City can not prevent forever a building from being demolished just because it’s on the list. What the residents are going to have to decide is whether the entire City should be placed under design control. As more and more of the City comes under design control, people are going to asking why the rest of it isn’t. Parallel reasoning just came up in the 100-foot-stream buffer controversy in the County. The question was not asked if those buffers have been effective in doing whatever it is that they are expected to do, but was “Since half of the County has had these restrictions for a number of years, why not the other half?”

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