Charlottesville Ranked among 30 Best Small Cities & Named “Most Literate”

sidewalk-cafe-53318_1280Earlier this month (January 2018), National Geographic Traveler ranked Charlottesville among the top 30 Best Small Cities in the U.S., as well as giving it the distinction of “Most Literate” among its peer cities. To determine the rankings, National Geographic teamed up with Resonance Consultancy, a branding consulting firm that has created an algorithm for ranking cities and is behind the World’s Best Cities program.

For the Best Small Cities rankings, the collaborative team analyzed social media references to cities in the U.S. and then organized them according to population size. Certain themes arose around certain cities, such as the number of coffee shops or art galleries, or—in the case of Charlottesville—the number of bookstores and college degrees. From those larger themes the team created superlatives to describe each city, rightly naming Charlottesville “Most Literate.” To learn more about our literary city, read our blog post on local bookstores. And, for all those eager readers out there, be sure to mark the dates of the upcoming Virginia Festival of the Book: March 21-25, 2018.

To read the complete list of Best Small Cities in the U.S., visit National Geographic here.

Independent Bookstores of the Charlottesville Area

It’s March, which means the annual Festival of the Book—now in its 23rd year—will soon be upon us here in Charlottesville. A great time to reflect on the literary culture of our little city. Even on non-festival days, our local bookstores become sites of great intellectual insights and imaginative explorations. Whether this occurs as a private exchange between a reader and an author via a printed book, between fellow readers, or during a reading and Q&A with an author in the flesh. The often modest bookshop storefront provides the doorway to an important cultural institution. And Charlottesville has several from which to choose.

On the Historic Downtown Mall

New Dominion Bookshop

404 E. Main Street | Charlottesville, VA 22902

New Dominion Bookshop
New Dominion Bookshop

New Dominion Bookshop’s claim to fame is that it is the “oldest independent bookseller in Virginia,” having been continuously in operation since 1924. The most recent owner, Carol Troxell, purchased the store in the mid-1980s and ran it until her sudden, unexpected death in January. (NPR did a lovely story on Carol and her bookshop, which you can listen to here.) The fate of the bookstore is as yet unknown, but let’s hope for the sake of the local literary community it will find a way to carry on without its late beloved owner. New Dominion Bookshop has a long history of hosting authors throughout the year, including during the annual Festival of the Book. It has also been known to employ authors as booksellers, such as novelist Emma Rathbone who authored The Patterns of Paper Monsters (Back Bay Books, 2010) and Losing It (Riverhead, 2016), and poet Kevin McFadden, author of the poetry collection Hardscrabble (University of Georgia Press, 2008). The shop is a deep and narrow gallery of tall shelves packed with new books, rarely any space between titles. Here you can find signed copies of the latest John Grisham novel, classic literature from the English canon, children’s books, and a well-stocked travel section. An island in the middle showcases new hardcovers and holds the one cash register, while a few floating book carts around the store showcase distinct categories, like local authors and Pulitzer Prize winners. A steep staircase toward the back of the store leads to the open second story where authors give readings and sign books. This floor also often serves as a rotating gallery of visual art by local artists.

Daedalus Bookshop

123 Fourth Street NE | Charlottesville, VA22902

Open since 1975, Daedalus Bookshop is the longest running used bookstore in Charlottesville. This unique shop just off the downtown mall is a

Daedalus Bookshop
Daedalus Bookshop

three-story warren filled with, at last count, 120,000 used books meticulously organized and reasonably priced. Ask the owner, Sandy McAdams, about any title and he will likely know off the top of his head whether or not he has it, as well as descriptive details, such as the binding and whether or not it is signed by the author. This is the kind of bookstore you can browse in for hours, meandering through book-lined pathways and peeking into alcoves devoted to entire genres. As C-VILLE Weekly reported in 2015, McAdams moved from New York to Charlottesville in 1974 accompanied by “20,000 books in a railroad car” after purchasing the building at the corner of Market Street and Fourth Street NE.

Read It Again Sam 

214 E. Main Street | Charlottesville, VA 22902

A fixture on the mall since the mid-1980s, you’ll know it by the signature carts of used paperbacks outside. Inside, Read It Again Sam is a tidy shop with quality used books in great condition and clear designations by genre. If you’re interested in unloading some of your own home library, the owner, Dave Taylor, is almost always buying but you might want to call ahead and ask. You can either get cash for books or sign up for some store credit to feed your reading habit.

Read It Again Sam
Read It Again Sam

Blue Whale Books

115 W. Main Street | Charlottesville, VA 22902

Each of Charlottesville’s bookstores has its own distinct personality and defining characteristics. One of the things that makes Blue Whale Books distinct is the beautiful prints and antique maps they sell in addition to books. The other distinction is Gizmo: the Corgi who spends his time greeting customers with a friendly sniff and lounging in patches of sunlight. Blue Whale occasionally buys used books, but you will need to call ahead first to make sure they’re buying.

Blue Whale Books
Blue Whale Books

On the Corner

Heartwood Books

5 Elliewood Avenue | Charlottesville, VA 22903

If you’re looking for a charming bookshop in which to browse beautifully bound antique books and affordable paperbacks, Heartwood Books is the place to go—especially if you want to relive the college experience of seeking out used classics. Heartwood is located just off University Avenue on the Corner and the staff is knowledgeable and helpful.

UVA Bookstore

400 Emmet Street South | Charlottesville, VA 22904

Just across from Newcomb Hall and above the Emmet Street parking garage, the university bookstore is a spacious, modern store filled with rows of short shelves displaying the shiny spines of new books. You can find sections devoted to faculty and alumni authors, rows of notebooks and journals to write in, and, of course, lots of UVA memorabilia, too—including beautiful framed photographs of the Rotunda.

On Route 29

The Book Room

440 Twentyninth Place Court | Charlottesville, VA 22901

This shop, with its long rows of tall shelves, is tucked away in an unassuming strip mall called Charlottesville Shoppers World that contains big brand stores, such as Stein Mart, across from the Fashion Square Mall on Route 29. The Book Room sells used books at least 50% off the list price they would be sold at if new, and they have a sale every January. If you are interested in their inventory and also have some books to purge from your home library, they offer a trading service. But one of the best advantages here? Ample parking.

Bookstore 5

In Crozet

Over the Moon Bookstore & Artisan Gallery

2025 Library Avenue | Crozet, VA 22932

In this cozy shop run by two sisters, Anne and Laura DeVault, you will often find Anne sitting behind the counter, knowledgeable and ready to discuss your favorite books or make a suggestion. If you enter the store with a head full of more titles than you could possible buy, she will even start a wish list for you so that when someone comes in to shop for you, she can pass along the titles of the books you most desire. At certain times of year, she also offers advance reader copies free with the purchase of a book. (These are copies that the publisher sends to reviewers and booksellers in advance of a book’s official release date.) And, as the name suggests, this store also functions as a gallery for local artisans, adding to the already lovely aesthetic of a well-kept shop stocked with books waiting to be opened.

In Scottsville

Baine’s Books & Coffee

485 Valley Street | Scottsville, VA 24590

At Baine’s you can have your book with a side of espresso and quiche, or a pastry made in-house. They describe their small selection of new and used books as carefully “curated,” and frequently host book signings with local authors. Their current winter hours run daily until 4 pm. Check their website for updated hours.

Charlottesville’s 2016 Rankings

It seems every year Charlottesville is awarded recognition of some kind for an aspect of the city that makes it a wonderful place to live. Whether it is the proximity of the Blue Ridge Mountains or the University of Virginia, or the iconic pedestrian mall (one of the only estimated 75 remaining in the U.S.), there are endless remarkable and noteworthy characteristics that define the area and earn the notice of others. Here is a list of all of Charlottesville’s 2016 honors (and one so far for 2017, too!).

Paramount Downtown_750x1000

A Sense of Place

The New York Post ranked Charlottesville #3 out of the 15 Best Places to Live in the U.S.

Livability named Charlottesville #21 of the Top 100 Best Places to Live.

Travel+Leisure’s annual America’s Favorite Places survey ranked Charlottesville #23 out of 30 of America’s Favorite Towns. According to their website, “The open-response survey asked respondents to submit their favorite place and rate it in over 65 categories, including affordability, notable restaurants, and public parks.” Charlottesville’s high scores gave a nod to the number and quality of area bookstores and wineries. listed Charlottesville as one of the 10 Hippest Mid-Sized Cities in America.



The American Farmland Trust ranked Charlottesville’s City Market as the #3 farmers market in America in the nationwide People’s Choice category.

Travelocity named Charlottesville one of America’s Best Small Cities for Foodies, specifically highlighting The Clifton Inn, The Local, and The Boar’s Head.

OpenTable named local restaurant Fleurie as one of the 100 Best Restaurants in America.

 Meal with a view_1000x750


HealthLine ranked Charlottesville as one of the top 10 Healthiest Small Towns in the U.S.



College Rank slotted Charlottesville in as #7 out of 50 of The Best College Towns in America.


Business ranked Charlottesville #4 out of 50 Best Cities for Entrepreneurs due to the success of the University of Virginia’s Innovation Laboratory, or “i.Lab,” as it’s known.



About Great Books included Charlottesville on “The Ultimate 50-State Road Trip for Book Lovers” due to the annual Festival of the Book, multiple bookstores, and the historical presence of Edgar Allen Poe and William Faulkner, not to mention the library at Monticello.



Paw Culture ranked Charlottesville #7 on its list of “11 Pet-Friendly Holiday Towns and Cities,” citing the popularity of the downtown pedestrian mall.



And one to grow on…

In January 2017, Expedia named Charlottesville one of the top 17 Places to Visit in 2017 for its mountain views, historic sites, local coffee, shops, and many vineyards.


Charlottesville Authors Published in 2016

In 2016, authors local to the Charlottesville area published over 40 books, ranging from poetry collections to photography books to novels written on the timeless themes of love and loss. The list of Charlottesville authors includes several recognizable names, such as bestselling authors John Grisham, Jan Karon, and Rita Mae Brown, award-winning author and former poet laureate Rita Dove, as well as newcomer Margot Lee Shetterly, whose novel Hidden Figures was adapted to film for a major motion picture released to theaters this month. Whether it is the rolling hills and beautiful mountain views that offer inspiration, the intellectual draw of the University of Virginia, or the small but vibrant urban center of Charlottesville that stimulates ideas and conversation, it’s evident that many writers are making a home for themselves in this particularly lovely piece of central Virginia.

Here is the list we’ve compiled of books published by area writers in 2016. Let us know if we’ve overlooked anyone!


Nine Island (Catapult) by Jane Alison. A woman in Miami translates Ovid and considers giving up love, all while observing the complex relationship dynamics within her condo community.
Some of the Parts (Knopf Books for Young Readers) by Hannah Barnaby. A teen reeling from her brother’s accidental death searches for his organ donation recipients in hopes of finding closure.
Cakewalk: A Novel (Bantam) by Rita Mae Brown. Sisters in a southern town test the boundaries that define their lives in the aftermath of WWI.
Tall Tail: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery (Bantam) by Rita Mae Brown. A crime in present-day Crozet, Virginia leads Harry to research a murder that happened in 1784, all with the help of her feline companions.
Ninja Librarians: A Sword in the Stacks (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky) by Jenn Swann Downey. In this middle-grade young adult book, Dorrie time travels to 1912 England as an apprentice of the society of ninja librarians she has stumbled upon.
The Other Side of Hope (CreateSpace) by R.F. Dunham. In this work of speculative fiction, the eastern hemisphere is the economic center of the world and Islam is the dominant religion when a terrorist attack sparks a war between east and west.
The Whistler (Doubleday) by John Grisham. Lacy Stoltz investigates a judge accused of helping to fund a mafia-backed casino who is now pocketing casino money.
Theodore Boone: The Scandal (Dutton Books for Young Readers) by John Grisham. A 13-year-old investigates possible cheating on standardized tests at his school.
Scamming Death, The Scary Mary Series (CreateSpace) by S.A. Hunter. Protagonist Mary battles the angel of death who is terrorizing a nursing home.
Nitro Mountain: A Novel (Knopf) by Lee Clay Johnson. This novel follows the dramas within an Appalachian Virginia town.
Barhoppers: The Answer Man and Other Bar Plays (Indie Theater Now) by Joel Jones. These short, comedic plays with a philosophical bent explore themes of love, ambition, and testing social boundaries.
Come Rain or Come Shine, Mitford Series (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) by Jan Karon. Dooley Kavanagh and Lace Harper finally wed– in a barn.
Invisible Fault Lines (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) by Kristen-Paige Madonia. A modern teen’s father disappears on a construction site. Possible clues lead her to research the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Done Growed Up, Apron Strings Trilogy Volume 2 (Westropp Press) by Mary Morony. This second book in the series continues the story of the Mackey family and their black maid in the 1950s American South.
Lost and Found, The Maria Series Book 5 (CreateSpace) by Ella Rea Murphy. In the late 1940s, protagonist Maria explores the new economic freedom available to women, while also preoccupied with thoughts of three different men.
Grave New World, Slate & Ashe Series No. 4 (Echelon Graphic Novels) written by Ethan Murphy, edited by Susan L. Holland, art by Luigi Teruel. The titular evolved zombie and outlaw run from one problem only to stumble upon another: an armed militia.
Pigloo (Henry Holt & Co.) by Anne Marie Pace. In this picture book a young pig plans to explore the North Pole, despite the naysaying of his sister.
Losing It (Riverhead Books) by Emma Rathbone. Julia, an adult woman who happens to be a virgin, spends the summer with her single, ageing aunt only to learn that her aunt has also unintentionally remained chaste. Julia is on a mission to find out how this happened and how she can avoid a similar fate.
There Is Nothing Strange (Holland House) by Susan Pepper Robbins. This novel explores the entanglements of a love triangle between married couple Laura and Jeremy, and their friend Henry.
The Giant, Quarantine Book 4 (Carolrhoda Lab TM) by Lex Thomas (writing team Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies). In the fourth book in the Quarantine series, protagonist Gonzalo searches for his love, Sasha.



Cut on the Bias: Poems (Laughing Fire Press) by Patricia Asuncion. In this collection of poetry, the personal is the political as the author writes of growing up a biracial Filipino American in inner-city Chicago.
Waking to Beauty: Encounters with Remarkable Beings (Rainbow Ridge) by Rosalyn Berne. While recounting her connection to horses, the author considers the presence of divinity in the animal kingdom.
Homes and Haunts: Touring Writers’ Shrines and Countries (Oxford University Press) by Alison Booth. This study explores public interest in writers’ homes.
FLOAT: Becoming Unstuck for Writers (Be Well Here) by AM Carley. This helpful guide consists of exercises and prompts to stimulate the writing mind by a professional writing coach.
Collected Poems: 1974-2004 (W.W. Norton & Company) by Rita Dove. This robust collection spans thirty years of the former poet laureate’s career, ranging from subjects of motherhood, language, and African American identity.
Why Write? A Master Class on the Art of Writing and Why It Matters (Bloomsbury USA) by Mark Edmundson. The author explores the titular question and why writing is a vital form of expression.
The Preschool Parent Primer (IvyArtz) by Pamela Evans. This petite primer is packed with everything preschool teachers wish their students’ parents knew.
Shantytown, USA: Forgotten Landscapes of the Working Poor (Harvard University Press) by Lisa Goff. This scholarly book follows the history of shantytowns.
The Perfect Season: A Memoir of the 1964-1965 Evansville College Purple Aces (University of Indiana Press) by Russell Grieger. This memoir reflects back on that rare experience in athletics: completing the perfect season.
Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination (Harvard University Press) by Jack Hamilton. This scholarly book explores what led to the whitewashing of rock and roll.
For Love of the Land: A History of the Wintergreen Community (The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen) by Mary Buford Hitz. This illustrated coffee table book chronicles the conservation efforts that led to the creation of Wintergreen resort.
First Entrepreneur: How George Washington Built His—and the Nation’s—Prosperity (Da Capo Press) by Edward G. Lengel. This book explores the economic principles that informed Washington’s approach to government.
Whistle What Can’t be Said: Poems (Unicorn Press) by Charlotte Matthews. These poems reflect on the author’s experiences in childhood, and with cancer and survival.
Night Sky Frequencies and Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press) by Debra Nystrom. The common thread that ties these poems together is a narrative that follows the lives of two abandoned children.
Scattering Ashes: A Memoir of Letting Go (She Writes Press) by Joan Z. Rough. This deeply personal and emotional memoir chronicles the challenges and rewards of caring for an aging parent with whom the author had a difficult relationship.
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race (William Morrow & Company) by Margot Lee Shetterly. This New York Times Bestseller recounts the true story of four African American women mathematicians whose calculations for NASA made space travel possible.
Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, from Scout to Go Set a Watchman (Henry Holt & Co.) by Charles Shields. In this revised biography, the author considers the posthumous publication of Lee’s Go Set a Watchman.
Monticello in Mind: Fifty Contemporary Poems on Jefferson (University of Virginia Press) edited by Lisa Russ Spaar. A collection of various poets explores and interrogates Thomas Jefferson’s complicated legacy.
God of Earth: Discovering a Radically Ecological Christianity (Westminster John Knox Press) by Kristin Swenson. The author, an associate professor of religious studies, explores the sacred in the natural world.
I’m Not from the South, But I Got Down Here as Fast as I Could (Sartoris Literary Group) by Tony Vanderwarker. In this memoir the author recounts his migration to, and immersion in, the south.
Glass Harvest (Autumn House) by Amie Whittemore. This collection of poetry examines love and loss with language that often references nature.


Carry Me Ohio (Sturm & Drang) by Matt Eich. This collection of photographs documents the ten years the photographer spent with the people of southeastern Ohio.
The Philosopher’s Style (Grey Book) by Beatrix Ost. This eclectic collection combines fiction, interviews, and visual art from the author’s collection.
Flash: The Photography of Ed Roseberry: Charlottesville, Virginia 1940s-1970s (C’ville Images) by Steve Trumbull. Vintage black and white photographs show Charlottesville in the mid-1900s.


The Virginia Festival of the Book Hits Charlottesville March 16-20

VaBookFestival2016-OrigCharlottesville has a rich literary tradition, influenced by both the personal libraries of men like Jefferson and Madison, the University of Virginia’s vast collection, and the presence of authors like Charles Wright, Rita Dove, and John Grisham. The Virginia Festival of the Book is an annual testament to the social and communal power of literature. For the 22nd year, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities will bring authors and readers together to celebrate the best things about literary culture. The festival has a wide range of programs, from panels with authors, a celebration of local Pulitzer Prize winners (it’s the Pulitzer’s 99th anniversary), an exploration of Charlottesville’s changing demographic makeup through the lens of literature, and the StoryFest series for the children. Much of the action is concentrated in the downtown mall area, at places like the Paramount Theater, the Central Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, Champion Brewery, and the Omni Hotel. There’s also a smattering of events at UVa, most notably at the Culbreth Theater. If you have kids, chances are there’s an event going on at their school, no matter how small.

One of the best things about the Virginia Festival of the Book is the opportunity to come face to face with some truly esteemed writers. One such opportunity will present itself on 6:30pm on Friday, March 18th at UVa’s Culbreth Theater. It’s a celebration of Pulitzer Prize-winning poets Rita Dove, Vijay Seshardi, and Greg Pardlo. Each of the poets will read their award-winning selections and discuss their work. Dove is an esteemed poet, the first African American Poet Laureate, and a professor at UVa. On the 19th at the Central Jefferson-Madison Regional Library on Market Street, two authors, Martha Wolfe and Mary Lyons (author of The Virginia Blue Ridge Railroad) will host a discussion about the Piedmont region and localized history about land in central Virginia. Author Leanna Joyner will highlight Civil War sites situated on the Appalachian Trail; Joyner wrote a book called Hiking Through History: Civil War Sites on the Appalachian Trail. The StoryFest has great offerings for kids, like a celebration of the TV show Arthur’s 20th birthday at the Paramount Theater or the opening ceremony which celebrates literacy in Virginia with Secretary of Education Anne Holton, also at the Central JMRL. There are countless other programs and exhibitions at a variety of locations around the Charlottesville area. Click the link above or get in touch with us at Gayle Harvey Real Estate for more information!

Crozet and Jefferson-Madison Regional Libraries

Crozet Library
Crozet Library

Every city needs a good library; these days it’s less about getting your hands on a certain book and more about learning in a communal center, or being exposed to new ideas, perspectives, and viewpoints. To that end, the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library is a valuable resource. Central Virginia libraries are informed by an important precedent; the large, extensive private collections owned by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The JMRL was formed in 1972 by the City of Charlottesville, and the Counties of Albemarle, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson, but the history of libraries in the Piedmont region is far more rich.

The Charlottesville JMRL is considered the Central branch, and for good reason. Its location on Market Street is flanked by office buildings, law offices, and homes in downtown Charlottesville. It’s very accessible to anyone in the general area, and they do a great job with outreach and enlightening community programs. The Central branch plays an important role in the Virginia Festival of the Book, which comes to Charlottesville every spring. The reference staff is happy to provide face-to-face tutorials on basic computer skills, and they have a documentary film series on the 4th Thursday of every month. Then there’s the Black Authors Reading Group which has recently gone digital, and Books on Tap series every first Thursday of the month down at Champion Brewery.

Crozet’s incarnation of the JMRL underwent significant renovations in 2013. They relocated from what was originally an old railroad depot to a brand new space, a cavernous, LEED[1] certified building on 18,300 square feet. The library’s grand opening was September 28, 2013, at which point community members and fundraisers had generated over a million dollars in donations, state grants, and other contributions, including the handmade circulation desk, made locally in Crozet. The new library is a sight to behold, a beautiful building with vaulted ceilings, stone columns, and 360 degrees of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The library has had a marked impact on Crozet, in part because tremendous community effort required to manifest the vision. In fact, Crozet’s local newspaper The Crozet Gazette estimated that library use almost doubled after the new library opened. And utilized for more than just book housing, Crozet’s location hosts awesome events and exhibitions, like local historian Col. Edwin Dooley’s exhibit about the town’s namesake, Col. Claudius Crozet, or the in-depth display of Old Downtown Crozet. The library proves that Crozet is more than just land west of Charlottesville…it’s a thriving, active community in its own right.

[1] Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, one of the more ubiquitous green energy certification programs in the world.

Charlottesville Star Power, Part II

We’re doing it again…if you live in Charlottesville, you probably know (and have likely seen) some of these familiar faces. But if you’re thinking about moving here and buying a home in Charlottesville, it’s only fitting you get to know some of your neighbors. Without further ado, here’s another list of famous faces ‘round the way.

John Grisham, Author, philanthropist
If you didn’t know, you’d hardly expect it out of the private, reserved Grisham, but he is one of the best-selling authors of his generation, alongside people like Agatha Christie, Dan Brown, and J.K. Rowling. Many of his works have been adapted for screens big and small, most notably The Pelican Brief, The Firm, and his first novel, A Time to Kill. He started out as a small-time lawyer in Mississippi but found a true calling in his thrilling legal dramas. He’s also a mainstay at the Virginia Festival of the Book, which comes to Charlottesville in March every year. Grisham is also a philanthropist and activist, sitting on the board of directors for the Innocence Project, donating a million annually to his alma mater Ole Miss, and, in recent years between $1 and $2 million annually through his charity, Oakwood Foundation. That is, by the way named after Oakwood, his farm in Albemarle County, in Covesville. It’s a majestic, 240-acre central Virginia estate with a horse farm and several gardens. He also owns another farm in central Virginia called Riverside. And, in the tradition of Faulkner, he is a former resident of Oxford, Mississippi who now lives in Charlottesville.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Actor, wrestler
A farm in central Virginia…not quite the place you’d expect a multimillion dollar wrestler-turned Hollywood action hero to inhabit. But if you can smell what the Rock is cookin’, it’s probably because you’re in Fluvanna, near his sprawling property east of Charlottesville. Little is known about this domicile, because years of living in the public eye has given Johnson a good idea of how to avoid it. A legion of kids grew up watching the Rock on World Wrestling Entertainment, and in addition to making him the most successful performer in that business, it helped him get the highest salary for a first-time actor in The Scorpion King. From there he was king of the The Fast and the Furious franchise, a bonafide blockbuster series in its time. Since then, the Rock has won over all the hearts that weren’t beating inside the chests of wide-eyed, angst-ridden young boys with their own TVs. He’s done this with a series of roles, some comedy, some action. We can’t tell you what the Rock really does on his Charlottesville farm, but we can tell you that he’s been spotted a few times at Gold’s Gym by various giddy locals, all of whom now have a story about how they beat the Rock in a pickup basketball game. Yea right buddy…us too.

John Kluge, Businessman, philanthropist
It’s difficult to drive through Charlottesville without seeing the Kluge brand somewhere in town. As a philanthropist and entrepreneur, John Kluge gave a lot to this city. He hailed from Chemnitz, Germany and studied economics up at Columbia University. He made most of his money in media and broadcasting, selling the television stations of his Metromedia company in 1986; these went on to form the core of Fox’s television programming. He is remembered today as a philanthropist, giving over $510 million to his alma mater. Most of that money goes to financial aid for underprivileged students, as he was once the beneficiary of scholarships. In Charlottesville, his presence is felt across a broad spectrum of public works. In 2001, he donated his 7,378 acre rural estate in Albemarle County to the University of Virginia. It remains the largest gift ever given to the university. UVa uses Morven Farm to hold classes and seminars, making the most of an opportunity to have agricultural instruction there. As an avid collector of indigenous Australian art, he helped found the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Museum at UVa. It’s considered one of the finest indigenous Australian collections in the world, even rivaling some in Australia itself. There’s also the Kluge Children’s Rehabilitation Center (the facilities of which were recently moved by UVa and renamed the Battle Building), and the Kluge Vineyard and Estates, primarily run by his ex-wife and widow Patricia Kluge until it was bought by Donald Trump a few years ago and renamed Trump Vineyards.

Jessica Lange, Actress
Jessica Lange is routinely acknowledged as one of the finest actresses of her generation. She started out in a 1976 remake of King Kong, putting on a string of powerful performances that reinterpreted the role of the damsel-in-distress, the victimized heroine in film. She brought depth to these characters and in many cases restored a sense of autonomy that was rare in the male gaze-ridden Hollywood of the 70s and 80s. In 1982, she became the first performer (male or female) in 40 years to win two Oscar nominations in one year, for Best Actress in a Lead Role (for her portrayal of Hollywood actress Frances Farmer in Frances) and Best Supporting Actress (for her role in Tootsie). After several film roles, she made her Broadway debut playing Blanche DuBois in the Tennessee Williams magnum opus A Streetcar Named Desire. She and actor husband Sam Shepard settled down on a huge Charlottesville farm, raising their children for ten years before moving up to her native Minnesota. They also grew chickens and veggies.

Edgar Allen Poe, Author, poet
Charlottesville’s most famous dropout, Edgar Allen Poe was a master of the macabre in literature, captivating audiences with thrilling, gripping short works wherein the familiar becomes strange and uncanny shapes and characters create a distorted version of reality. Poe is widely considered to have invented the “detective mystery” genre, so someone call John Grisham and tell him to pay homage. His work is dark Romanticism, a response to the burgeoning transcendentalist aesthetic of the time; let’s just say Poe was not making any trips to Walden anytime soon. The poem “The Raven” is probably his most notable piece of work; it tells of a sentient raven and his conversation with a man in distress over unrequited love. These common themes unravel as the poem details the man’s slow descent into madness. The young Poe was orphaned early in life and bounced around places in Virginia before matriculating at UVa in 1826. He was unable to afford tuition and left after a year. There is some speculation as to where exactly his dorm at UVa was located, but most agree it was at 13 West Range. It has been preserved, and its upkeep is seen to by a collection of faculty and students known as the Raven Society. Unlike many of the members on this list (most of whom own Charlottesville farms) Poe died penniless and alone in Baltimore; the life of an avant garde artist.

Eduardo Montes-Bradley, Director, photographer, author
Now a long-time resident of the Ville, award-winning documentarian Eduardo Montes-Bradley grew up in Argentina amidst the political turmoil of the 60s and early 70s before relocating to the U.S. when he was 16. He uses various pen names for different projects. Montes-Bradley dabbled a bit in fiction in the 90s, publishing his last film in that style in 1995 and returning to documentaries in 1997 with a biographical sketch of Osvaldo Soriano, an Argentine journalist and novelist who was exiled from his home country. This eventually grew to become his signature style; indeed Montes-Bradley has crafted many of these biographical profiles, covering a wide range of figures in different fields. He’s lived in Charlottesville for a few years now and is at the helm of the Heritage Film Project at UVa. The Heritage Film Project features biographical essays of varying lengths, all about humanists, scientists, and places at the university. The most recent entry in this series is Monroe Hill, a film which traces the historical context of James Monroe’s first home on land in Albemarle County, and the thirty-year overhaul which led to the estate becoming the center of UVa. It premiered at the Virginia Film Festival earlier this year. He also did a profile of another member on this list, the poet Rita Dove entitled Rita Dove: An American Poet. It talks about the poet’s formative years and details her career in eleven parts including a “prologue” and “epilogue.” This is similar to the formal structure that Dove prefers, evident in her later works. He also contributes heavily to the Writers Made in Brazil series which profiles Brazilian authors, and the Argentine Writers Collection which does the same for Argentine authors. Of these, his film Harto the Borges is quite notable. It’s a documentary on the poet Jorge Luis Borges and includes a rare TV interview with the author. Eduardo Montes-Bradley’s work is also consistently featured in the Virginia Film Festival. Doing Cville proud, to be sure.

Rita Dove, Poet
Rita Dove is deft and versatile. Besides the throwaway designation of “contemporary poetry,” her work really does defy categorization with its breadth and scope. She writes on a variety of topics, some historical, some related to the black experience, some transcendent ideas of maternity, family, the human memory, and love. She is the first African-American Poet Laureate (Robert Hayden held the title before they changed the name), and she’s also a Pulitzer Prize winner and Poet Laureate of Virginia. Her work is very aware and definitely addresses subjects that aren’t very easy to discuss, like bodies and body image. As far as Charlottesville goes, she started teaching here in 1993 and has held the chair of the Commonwealth Professor of English since then. On Grounds (the Charlottesville word for “campus”) she is known for being friendly and approachable, especially with regards to English students, to whom she gives thoughtful, constructive advice. She and her husband Fred Viebahn, a German writer live together outside Charlottesville, on land in Albemarle County.

Chris Long, Pro NFL Defensive End
It was tough to decide between writing about pro Hall of Famer Howie Long or his son Chris, but only one of these men has a Little John’s sub which bears his name, and upon that consideration, the choice was much easier. Chris had some big shoes to fill, but he appears to be doing just fine as the second overall draft pick for the St. Louis Rams in the 2008 NFL Draft. He attended St. Anne’s-Belfield, an independent K-12 day school on 49 acres of land in Charlottesville. In addition to football, he played basketball, lacrosse, and baseball. He matriculated at UVa in 2004 and quickly matured into one of the premier defensive forces in the country, ending his college career all-ACC honors, as team captain, and with 8.3 tackles per game…did we mention they named a sandwich after him? On the Rams, his sheer athleticism is utilized as both defensive end and linebacker, and he got his first sack ever against N.Y. Giants QB Eli Manning. To our knowledge, Eli Manning does not have a sandwich named after him. Manning could not be reached for further comment.

Rob Lowe, Actor
Rob Lowe is a Charlottesville native, born here while his father was attending UVa’s law school. From there it was Dayton, Ohio, Malibu, California, and the life of an actor. His breakout role was in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders, and he went on to cultivate a pretty successful career on both screens. Everyone remembers his role in The West Wing; he played Deputy White House Communications Director Sam Seaborn, who starts out as the main protagonist of the series for the first few seasons until Martin Sheen’s President Bartlet character took over the focus of the show. He was also in Brothers and Sisters, and more recently he’s enjoyed a resurgence of popularity after being cast as the high-energy Chris Traeger in NBC’s hit show Parks and Recreations. Not bad for a guy who spent his early years crawling around Charlottesville in his poopy diapers.

Charlottesville Star Power: A Few Famous Friends

The land in the Charlottesville area is fertile ground for more than a few special individuals. Besides being home to U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe (who are, by the way not included in this list, as we’re trying to keep it to the last hundred years or so), the central Virginia farms and towns in the area helped foster some genuine talent. You’ll definitely recognize some of these names, and some you may not, but each one has touched Cville at some point in their life.

Dave Matthews, Singer-Songwriter, Vineyard Owner
If you’re a music fan, you probably saw this one coming. But we simply had to mention Dave, for a few reasons. Born in South Africa, the two-time Grammy Award-Winning singer/songwriter moved to Charlottesville in 1986 where he soon became part of the local music scene. And it was quite local at that time; since then, Charlottesville has acquired a handful of key venues and regularly attracts nationally-touring acts passing through the east coast. This is in no small part due to Dave, who started the Dave Matthews Band in 1991 with Cville musicians LeRoi Moore, Carter Beauford, and others. Their first show was that year at Trax, a now-defunct music venue downtown. Dave was a Charlottesville fixture during this time, working at the bar Miller’s downtown and collaborating with notable musicians like guitarist Tim Reynolds and trumpeter John D’earth. He and the Dave Matthews Band soon propelled to superstardom, selling millions of records and playing to sold out crowds in arenas. A testament to his love for the area: in 1999, he bought more than ten acres of land in Albemarle County, Blenheim Vineyards. It’s situated within both the Virginia and Monticello viticultural regions, and Dave wanted to preserve a piece of local history. And the wine is good, too.

Charles Wright, Poet, Professor

To be fair, the current United States Poet Laureate was not born or raised in Charlottesville. He was born in Tennessee, educated at Davidson, the University of Iowa, and schools in Rome. But he’s become a fixture, celebrated by English students at the University of Virginia. In between, he’s managed to craft some of the most compelling poems in the contemporary canon, interspersing Southern landscapes with everyday ruminations on the nature of life and God. Before becoming Poet Laureate last year, he had received almost every other conceivable honor, from Pulitzer to National Book Award to the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. To hear him talk about the latest honor displays his humility. To follow in the footsteps of literary giants like Edgar Allen Poe and William Faulkner (the latter counted among one of Wright’s early influences), he is one of the greatest minds to land in the city of Charlottesville. And unlike Edgar Allen Poe, he stayed here!

Tina Fey
From humble beginnings in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, Tina Fey has emerged as one of the brightest voices in modern comedy. We don’t want to brag, but we like to think it was her time studying playwriting and acting at the University of Virginia in the early 90s. She didn’t stay and make her home in Charlottesville though…she went on to hone her craft in Chicago’s Second City. While in Chicago, she wrote and submitted several scripts for Saturday Night Live, leading to her career as a writer on the show. She penned several great skits and eventually became the show’s first female head writer in 1999. She started appearing in the show’s Weekend Update alongside co-host Jimmy Fallon and later Amy Poehler; she’s still remembered for her classic impression of Governor Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential election. She also wrote the screenplay for Mean Girls starring Lindsay Lohan. Fey’s magnum opus was arguably starring in and writing the hit NBC show 30 Rock alongside Alec Baldwin, Chris Parnell, Tracy Morgan and several other hilarious individuals. 30 Rock is, in this writer’s opinion one of the best primetime comedy shows in recent history, maybe since Seinfeld. The show’s trademarks, its wit and its caustic, self-aware humor made it a breath of fresh air at the time and have inspired many other shows. In 2013, Tina came back to the Charlottesville area to be the inaugural presidential speaker for the arts. Tina on UVA’s website before the speech: “I am very excited to come back to Charlottesville to participate in the President’s Speaker Series for the Arts in September,” Fey said. “When I left Charlottesville in the early ’90s, there was a large sign on Route 29 that said, ‘The bagels are coming!’ Did that ever happen?” It did, Tina…it did.

William Faulkner
One of America’s most celebrated authors, William Faulkner came to Charlottesville in 1957, serving as the Writer-in-Residence for two years and teaching until his death in 1962. It was the end of an illustrious career, one of the greatest in American history. Publishing The Sound and the Fury in 1929, he was writing at the cusp of modernity in English literature; he and his contemporaries were reinventing the form and structure, the shape and scope of the novel. His work played with temporality, using non-linear plotlines and a splintered, stream-of-conscious narrative technique. He grew up in Lafayette, Mississippi and as such, his writing is filled with themes and characters that reflect the Southern United States, including the burden of history stemming from the destructive Civil War. Faulkner is the spokesperson for the Southern Renaissance of literature in the period after the First World War.

Sissy Spacek
Born in Texas, Mary Elizabeth “Sissy” Spacek currently calls Charlottesville home after a rich and illustrious career in film. Her farm in Albemarle County is the perfect place for a star with her type of personality; indeed, she has a significant aversion to the public eye, preferring to hover over the spotlight, leaving the tabloids for more attention-seeking folk. Her early breakout role was that of a telekinetic, often-bullied teenager in Brian DePalma’s Carrie. She is also celebrated for her role as country music legend Loretta Lynn in 1980’s The Coal Miner’s Daughter, which netted her an Academy Award for Best Actress. Legend has it Lynn herself chose Spacek for the role. Little is known about Spacek’s private life, but she must love her farm in Albemarle County…she’s been here since 1982!

Ralph Sampson
We’ve got a soft spot for UVa basketball, especially with the overwhelming success of the men’s team in recent years. But it’s hard to talk about basketball here in Charlottesville without mentioning Ralph Sampson, one of the most dominant and versatile centers in college basketball history. At a towering 7-foot-4 inches, Sampson led the Cavaliers to an NIT title in 1980, a Final Four appearance in 1981, and an Elite Eight appearance in ‘83. He was a phenom, both tall and dominating but also lithe and agile. He was drafted first in the NBA draft of 1983, although the peak of his career came during his days at UVa, where he was College Player of the Year three separate times. And he has a sandwich named for him at Little John’s. Not bad Ralph.