Get to Know Charlottesville, Virginia

Downtown Mall Charlottesville Charlottesville, Virginia is a city located about two hours southwest of Washington DC and about an hour west of the capital city of Richmond. Charlottesville is best known for the University of Virginia and being home to Thomas Jefferson. Charlottesville is an independent city in the Commonwealth, but the Charlottesville Metropolitan Area makes up Albemarle, Fluvanna, Buckingham, Greene and Nelson Counties.

What’s In A Name?

The city of Charlottesville was named for Queen Charlotte who married King George III in 1761. She was Queen of Great Britain until 1818.

History of Charlottesville

The area that is modern-day Charlottesville has long been settled upon by pioneers and native people. A Monacan Indian trail was used by travelers to connect Richmond and The Blue Ridge Mountains. This trail became known as Three Notch’d Road. Later, the explorer Meriweather Lewis’s great-great-grandfather patented land that makes up the area we know as Charlottesville today. The city was officially founded in 1762.

During the Revolutionary War, Charlottesville actually had a prison for British and German prisoners named The Barracks, hence the name of the popular shopping center.

In 1819, Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the Unite

Paramount Theater Charlottesville

d States, founded the University of Virginia. The university was built nearby Jefferson’s home, Monticello, and its distinguising feature, the Rotunda, still stands as the center of Grounds. UVA became the largest university in the south and one of Jefferson’s proudest achievements. Today, many traditions from the early years remain in tact.

Despite Virginia being home to the most battles in the Civil War, the city of Charlottesville remained out of harm’s way. In fact, the mayor surrendered the city to General Custer in order to save it. Around the same time, a factory that was used to make wool uniforms for confederate soldiers was burnt down. The factory was rebuilt and was known as Woolen Mills until it closed in the 1960s.

Railroads were built in Charlottesville in the 1850s and by the 1880s, the city had its first horse-drawn street cars. Around the turn of the century, more infrastructure was added including trolley lines, paved streets and eventually automobiles would find their way to Charlottesville. As the city grew, so did the University. It became, and remains, one of the area’s largest employers.

Nearby Attractions

Charlottesville’s most notable resident, Thomas Jefferson, lived in the beautiful mountainside home of Monticello. Today you can visit Monticello, tour his house and gardens, and learn about the countries Founding Father.

The Historic Downtown Mall is one of the longest walking malls in the country. Made up of historic buildings, there are dozens of shops, restaurants, theaters and more.

Grab lunch at Michie Tavern, a historic restaurant built in 1734. The tavern was a place where travelers could eat, drink and stay as they were passing through. Today, the tavern keeps its place in history – the “Southern Midday Fare” is served by folks wearing 1800s century attire.

The Rotunda on UVA’s Grounds is an iconic site in Charlottesville. The building sits in the center of Grounds, overlooking The Corner, a bustling place where students and locals can shop and grab a bite to eat within walking distance to the University.

James Monroe’s Highland is not far from Jefferson’s Monticello. Highland belonged to our nation’s fifth president and its history is preserved for people to enjoy today.

Carter Mountain’s Orchard not only has great local treats, apple picking and fun events, but the views of the city are breathtaking. 

Charlottesville is in the heart of Virginia wine country and is surrounded by dozens of delicious local wineries. In recent years, the brewery scene has exploded in the area, and even cideries as well. There is a restaurant for every craving, and the food scene is one you may find in a much larger metropolitan area.

Present Day Charlottesville

Charlottesville still has the smalltown feel, but has certainly grown in the past few decades. Local events, food, and the University continue to put the city on the map. 

Get to Know the town of Madison in Madison County, VA

The town of Madison is the center of Madison County and serves as the county seat. Madison sits at the crossroads of three major highways – US Route 29, State Route 230 and State Route 231.

What’s In A Name?
The town of Madison and the county it is located in was named for prominent statesmen and the fourth president of the United States, James Madison. Madison’s father was a well-known planter in the area. Madison, himself, served on the Virginia House of Delegates and Continental Congress. His family’s home and tobacco plantation, Montpelier, still remains in nearby Orange County.

History of Madison

The town of Madison is still, and has always been known for the rich agriculture it produces. The rural setting has remained since its inception in the 1790s. The area was often traveled through by native people due to its proximity to paths to the Shenandoah Valley. The Royal Governor Andrew Spottswood and even Civil War General Stonewall Jackson has spent time in Madison.

In August 1929, President Herbert Hoover visited the town of Madison and ended up buying land in the mountains nearby. His visit is still celebrated each year.

A handful of buildings in Madison, including the courthouse that was built in 1828, are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Nearby Attractions

Not in Madison, but it’s namesake, James Madison’s Montpelier’s is just up the road in Orange County. Over 2,500 acres of land to explore, you can see where James and Dolley Madison lived in the Virginia countryside, tour their home and grounds, and visit the cemetery where the Madison family is buried.

Yoder’s Country Market is more than just a store. Grab homemade baked goods, bulk food, all-natural local meat, sandwiches, a petting farm, and so much more.

Graves Mountain is a beautiful place to go apple picking in the fall, camping during the summer, or host a retreat any time of year. The Graves family has been running the lodge and farm for over 135 years.

Shenandoah National Park is a must-see in the area. The views of the Blue Ridge are unbeatable. With over 200,000 acres of protected land, you will find tons of wildlife and countless hiking trails, and you can take your time driving through the park on Skyline Drive.

Madison, Virginia was the location of two Civil War Battles, both sites you can visit today. The James City Battlefield and Jack’s Shop Battlefield can be seen on your own or as part of a Civil War tour in the area.

Virginia is wine country after all, and Madison is home to some great wineries and breweries including Bald Top Brewing Company, Blue Quartz Winery & Shotwell Run Brewing Company, DuCard Vineyards, Early Mountain Vineyards, Prince Michel and Revelation Vineyards.

Present Day Madison

Today, Madison clings to its rich history and rural, agricultural roots. It is part of the Madison County School District and is governed by a mayor and a four-person town council. 


Get to Know Lovingston, Virginia

Lovingston is a ‘census-designated place’ located in Nelson County, Virginia, just southeast of Charlottesville and Albemarle County. It currently serves as the county seat for Nelson County and has a population of less than 600 people. Located on Route 29 South out of Charlottesville, Lovingston is the geographic center of the Commonwealth of Virginia and is just over 100 miles from Richmond.

What’s In A Name?

The area of Lovingston was named for the Lovings, a prominent family who settled in the area in the early 1800s. The town was formed in 1807 when the Nelson County Court HouseLoving family gave 30 acres of land to create it. The courthouse became the center of the town and was the first building built after the town was created. Lovingston was de-incorporated in 1938.

History of Lovingston

After the courthouse was built in 1809, the rest of the town was built around it in a grid-like pattern. The town was designed by George W. Varnum, a merchant and architect from the area. The courthouse served as a place for people to come and gather weekly from across the county. Around the courthouse, other buildings went up one by one, including a law office, taverns and hotels, and even a jail.

In 1969, Hurricane Camille hit and devastated parts of Nelson County and Lovingston served as a rescue area for all those affected by the storm. In total, 153 Nelson County lives were lost during the storm and a monument stands in courthouse square to remember them.

In 2005, over 130 buildings in Lovingston were recognized by the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register for Historic Places. 

Nearby Attractions

The building best known as Kilmartin’s Pharmacy was originally built in the early 1800s and served as an inn for travelers. During the Civil War, it was used as a hospital for Confederate Soldiers. In the 1930s, the bottom was restored and used as a retail space and ultimately became the pharmacy. It was a place for gathering and remained open until 1980. The building still stands in Lovingston and is worth a visit.

Bright Hopes Baptist Church still stands and overlooks Lovingston. It was built by the American Missionary Association after the Civil War to serve freed slaves in the area. 

Nelson Hall once held the only theater in Nelson County. It still stands today, but has been used as a movie theater, performance hall and even a church over the years.

Mountain Cove Winery and Lovingston Winery are both located in Lovingston and worth the visit. Virginia Distillery Company has its home in Lovingston and makes Whisky using the water straight from the Blue Ridge Mountains. Wood Ridge Farm Brewery makes its beer from its own, farm-grown ingredients and prides itself on being ‘legitimately local’.

Over 29,000 acres of land makes up Fortune’s Cove Preserve, located in Lovingston. A challenging hike ends with gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The unique landscape allows for ‘unusual combinations of plants’ species to survive here. It’s also home to a variety of wildlife.

Present Day Lovingston

Today, Lovingston is part of the Nelson County Public School system. It’s layout still remains similar to the original grid it once was. 

There are plenty of wonderful wineries, cideries, distilleries and breweries within driving distance of Lovingston that provide fun for everyone. Lovingston is just a quick drive down Route 29 and is an easy commute to either Charlottesville or Lynchburg.

Lovingston’s historic charm and rural setting make it a great place to live.

Get to Know Scottsville, Virginia

Located just 19 miles south of Charlottesville, the town of Scottsville lies between both Albemarle and Fluvanna counties and is home to around 600 people. Once a large port on the James River, Scottsville has a growing downtown, family-friendly parks, plenty of history and small-town charm.

What’s In A Name?

Scottsville was originally named Scott’s Landing after a prominent family that lived in the area. In 1744, Albemarle County needed a site for its new courthouse. Scott’s Landing was originally built around Dr. John Scott’s 15 acres near the James River. Edward Scott’s house was used as a courthouse until one was built. The town of Scottsville was incorporated in 1818.

History of Scottsville

In the mid-1700s. Scottsville became the “western-most center of commerce and government” since rivers were the primary means of travel. In fact, Albemarle County was founded in Scott’s Landing. During that time, Thomas Jefferson’s father, Peter, traveled to Scottsville – then Scott’s Landing – to serve as justice for the newly formed county. Later, Thomas Jefferson practiced law in the Scottsville courthouse.

Initially, Scottsville was a river town used as a tobacco inspection station with a ferry. The town grew rapidly once the Kanawha Canal was completed in 1840. The canal ran parallel with the James River from Richmond and Scottsville became the largest port on this route. The canal was meant to reach all the way to the Ohio River, but the outbreak of the Civil War stopped construction and railroads became the main source of travel. 

Scottsville Virginia Canal Memorial
Scottsville Virginia Canal Memorial

During the Civil War, General Custer and General Phil Sheridan marched through Scottsville on their way to Appomattox. The town also gained a stop on the C&O Railroad that helped to supplement the travel over the James River. 

Since the incorporation of Scottsville, there has been over 20 floods in the region. In the 1980s, a levee was built to protect the area from future flooding. 

Scottsville VA Flood levels
Scottsville VA Flood levels

Nearby Attractions

Scottsville’s Historic District includes over 150 buildings in the region including commercial, religious, residential and factories. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

The Scottsville Museum has exhibits that tell the story of Scottsville history and the important role the town played along the James River. The museum is inside the former Disciples of Christ Church which was built in the mid-1800s. 

Scottsville’s Confederate War Memorial Monument and Cemetery honor the soldiers who died during the Civil War who came from the Scottsville area. The obelisk monument was dedicated in 2002 and is a Civil War Trails site.

The James River provides plenty of fun for residents and tourists alike. Horseshoe Flats campground boasts tent and RV sites, and is the perfect place to canoe, swim, tube, fish and picnic. 

James River near Scottsville VA
James River near Scottsville VA

Just five minutes outside of Scottsville, Hatton Ferry still runs throughout the year. Hatton Ferry is the only poled ferry still operating in the United States. People can ride the ferry across the James just like settlers did more than 100 years ago.

Present Day Scottsville

Today, Scottsville is a growing community that has continued to hold onto the smalltown charm. The historic downtown is home to many businesses including the James River Brewery, The Tavern on the James restaurant, a yoga studio, plenty of small eateries and more. There is a Food Lion store so residents can do their grocery shopping close to home. There are soccer fields and playground at Dorrier Park. Scottsville also has a branch of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library system.

Scottsville is the only incorporated town in Albemarle County. It has its own Town Council and Police Department. 

Get to Know Gordonsville, Virginia

Located 19 miles northeast of Charlottesville, the town of Gordonsville celebrated its bicentennial in 2013. The town is located in Orange County and has a rich history because of its proximity to the Virginia Central Railroad and several presidential landmarks nearby. Today, Gordonsville is a small residential town with a population around 1,500 people. 

What’s In A Name?

Gordonsville was named for Nathaniel Gordon who purchased 1,350 acres of land in the area in the 1780s. He opened a tavern in the area which became known as a place to eat, lodge and discuss local matters. Prominent guests like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and James Monroe stopped by “Gordon’s Tavern” on their way south to Charlottesville. 

In 1813, Gordon became the postmaster of the area and the area became known as Gordonsville. The land was willed to Gordon’s son, John, at the time of Nathaniel’s death in 1820. By then the area had been built into a small town with a post office, general store, blacksmith shop and more.

History of Gordonsville

Gordonsville’s location between Potomac and Charlottesville played an integral role in the growth of the area. The Louisa Railroad was extended through Gordonsville in 1839 and in 1854 the Orange & Alexandria Railroad completed its line which connected the area to Northern Virginia.

Gordonsville VA Exchange Hotel
Gordonsville Exchange Hotel

By mid-century, Nathaniel Gordon’s original tavern had burned down and was rebuilt as a luxury hotel for train passengers. When the Civil War broke out, the hotel was used as a hospital for over 70,000 patients. Gordonsville was repeatedly threatened during the war, but remained standing. 

In 1870, the town was incorporated by the Virginia General Assembly. Around the same time, Gordonsville was known for the food options in the area. By the end of the century, the area was known as “The Fried Chicken Capital of the World” because of the entrepreneurial efforts of African-American women who fed southern fare to train passengers. 

Over the next one hundred years, the cultural culinary scene has continued to flourish. Gordonsville is known for award-winning BBQ, French and German restaurants, and fried chicken continues to bring tourists to the area.

Nearby Attractions

Nathaniel Gordon’s original tavern that was rebuilt as a hotel and served as a hospital during the Civil War stands today as The Exchange Hotel Civil War Medical Museum. The beautiful Georgian architecture still stands as it did during the war and has exhibits that tell the story of the town of Gordonsville. Some say that the Museum is a prime place for paranormal activity and hosts ScareFest each Halloween.

Black Meadow, or Wolftrap Farm, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because it was owned by James and Dolley Madison. The farmhouse and plantation surrounding it now serves as a wedding venue.

The Gordonsville Historic District is located in downtown Gordonsville and is comprised of over 80 structures including churches, commercial buildings and the Exchange Hotel.

The greater Gordonsville area is known for outdoor activities, wineries and cideries, and great cuisine. Be sure to stop in at BBQ Exchange, an award-winning BBQ Restaurant!

Present Day Gordonsville

Today, US Route 15 and US Route 33 connects Standardsville and Louisa, and passes right through Gordonsville. The area boasts lots of history, modern-day amenities, and convenience to Charlottesville, Richmond and DC.

Get to Know Zion Crossroads

Just outside Albemarle County where Route US 15 meets Route US 250 is the unincorporated community of Zion Crossroads. Known by many as an exit off of Interstate 64, Zion Crossroads has seen tremendous growth in the past two decades. Once a sleepy little place with a single grocery store and gas station, Zion Crossroads now boasts large retail stores and plenty of restaurants. And in 2014 a diverging diamond interchange helped to improve traffic flow from the increase of residents and visitors.

Zion Crossroads spreads across Fluvanna and Louisa Counties. It is just a twenty minute drive from downtown Charlottesville, fifty minutes to Richmond, and 2.5 hours to Washington DC.Zion Crossroads

History of Zion Crossroads

In 1928, the Federal Government began work on the US Highway system. Initially, US Route 250 was built through West Virginia and into Ohio. In 1934, the highway was built through to Richmond, Virginia. In the area of modern day Zion Crossroads, the new highway crossed over the existing Route US 15 and became a stop along the way from east to west.

Initially, Zion Crossroads consisted of little more than a grocery store, a restaurant, a gas station and a motel. In the 1970s, Virginia began work on Interstate 64, which added to the thru traffic in the area. 

After I64 was built, the area of Zion Crossroads began to boom. Convenient stores, gas stations and restaurants popped up all around.

In the early 2000s, the area began to grow even more. A Lowe’s home improvement store was built, followed by a Wal-Mart Super Center. More restaurants and hotels were added, and eventually the Spring Creek Golf Community Development, a 950 plus acre gated community consisting of walking trails, business park, golf course and other amenities.

Nearby Attractions

The area around modern-day Zion Crossroads has a rich history. Just two miles north, you can find Green Springs National Historic Landmark District, a 14,000 National Park that is home to dozens of buildings, many of which pre-date the Revolutionary War. 

A quick 11 mile trip north will land you in Gordonsville, home of the award-winning BBQ Exchange

Spring Creek is home to plenty of shopping and dining and is home to their gorgeous golf course.

The area is home to dozens of picturesque wineries and cideries including Cunningham Creek, Keswick Vineyards and Castle Hill Cidery.

Present Day Zion Crossroads

Today, Zion Crossroads is still booming. In the recent years, UVA Health System and Sentara Hospital have added practices in the area to serve the growing population. The convenience of shopping and restaurants has helped the area grow as well. Residents in nearby Lake Monticello and Villages of Nahoor have all benefited from the area’s commercial growth.

In the spring of 2019, construction began on the project of bringing public water and sewage to the area. This, many people believe, will help the area develop even further. The project is scheduled to be finished in the fall of 2020.

Zion Crossroads truly lives by its name – a crossroads of modern day convenience with historic roots. The area continues to grow and remains committed to its rural charm.

Up, Up and Away!

Given the relatively modest size of the Charlottesville area—the combined City and Albemarle County populations totaled just over 150,000 in 2015—it might be surprising to learn that the area has supported a commercial airport since 1954. Known locally as CHO, the current iteration spans 710 acres, has a 60,000 square-foot terminal, and a runway measuring 6,801 feet in length. CHO reports that so far in 2017 they have welcomed over 630,000 passengers. CHO offers direct flights to Washington D.C. (Dulles), New York City (LaGuardia), Chicago (O’Hare), Philadelphia, Charlotte, and Atlanta, which makes getting a connecting flight to an international destination quite simple. The airlines available to choose from at CHO are: American Airlines, Delta, and United.

Just 10 miles from downtown Charlottesville, CHO is a straight shot up 29 North. Or, if you prefer the more scenic route, take Earlysville road and enjoy the mountain views as you watch the planes come and go.


While you await your departure or the arrival of a loved one, have a taste of the food and drink on offer. Sample the American fare at Turbo Grill or the local craft beer at the Radar Bar. Jet-lagged after a return flight home? Get your dose of caffeine at Copilot Coffee and you’ll be ready to go.

Life in Crozet

Twelve miles west of Charlottesville you’ll find the quaint yet growing community of Crozet, a census-designated-place (CDP) in Albemarle County, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with an elevation of 837 feet. (Click here to learn more about the origins of the unique name). According to the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors (CAAR) Neighborhood Report (February 2017), the population in Crozet is growing. At the time of the 2010 census there were 5,565 documented residents. There are now 6,600. In our mild, four-season climate, Crozet enjoys 98 days of full sun per year, with an annual rainfall of 45 inches and annual snowfall of 19.88 inches. Average temperatures range from 20-45 degrees Fahrenheit in January and 65-85 in July. Most residents, CAAR reports, are age 35-54 and most households earn $75,000 – $100,000 annually. The majority of residents work in education and the average commute is 26 minutes. Data collected within the last six months shows that 76% of residents own their home and 24% rent. Most of the dwellings purchased in Crozet at the time of CAAR’s report had fewer than 1400 square feet, were constructed within the last 10-20 years, and had three to four bedrooms. The typical price per square foot was $175-200, or less than $300,000 for the total property. However, the median estimated home value was $369,000 and the median list price was $544,000.

Now that you have all of the data, here are some other things you should know about life in Crozet.


Old Trail Village

This growing neighborhood development identifies itself as an “urban village,” defined as a mix of residential, dining, retail, and recreational buildings and structures, all contained within a walkable environment. The Old Trail Village Center has all of the above, including an ACAC Fitness and Wellness Center that offers classes, as well as cardio and strength training equipment. If you’re looking for outdoor activities, there are miles of walking and biking trails, a pool with Blue Ridge Mountain views at the Old Trail Swim Club, and an 18-hole championship golf course at the Old Trail Golf Club.

Foxchase Landing

This is another ongoing development in Crozet, located just off Route 250 West and nearby schools, restaurants, a grocery store, and the amenities of the Old Trail Village.

Piedmont Place

Open since September 2016, Piedmont Place is a solar-powered multi-use building with several dining options, a yoga studio, a multi-vendor market that includes a bookstore and a local craft brew & wine shop, and residential apartments. It is located just across the street from the new library, something architect Bob Anderson took into account in designing the façade, which pays homage to the library’s exterior. Within the Piedmont Place Market, you’ll find healthy meals to-go from Morsel Compass, small-batch, hand-crafted ice cream at Crozet Creamery, and nutritional smoothies and organic coffee at Smojo.

Local Dining

In the case of a couple Crozet restaurants, the old adage is true in the best sense: their reputations precede them. Even for newcomers to the Charlottesville area, it won’t be long before you hear of Fardowners Restaurant and Crozet Pizza. According to their website, the namesake of Fardowners is “a group of Irish immigrants who labored for the Blue Ridge Railway Co. and helped construct four tunnels through the Blue Ridge Mountains during the decade before the Civil War.” The restaurant sits near the railroad tracks that run through Crozet and is in sight of the old C&O railroad depot, which used to house the community library. As part of their mission is to support other local businesses, the Fardowners menu is as locally-sourced as possible. Their menu includes pub standards like burgers and wings, but also hefty salads and innovative twists on traditional mac & cheese. Their brunch menu includes Vegan and Vegetarian-friendly options, too, such as a tofu scramble sourced from Louisa County’s own Twin Oaks.

Family-owned Crozet Pizza has been serving fresh pizzas made from their own original recipes since 1977. (It’s so good it even made our Top 5 list of pizzerias in the Charlottesville area.) Their House Favorites include “Buddhist Pie” (white sauce, sun dried tomatoes, red peppers, feta, fresh basil), “Meet Me in Crozet” (pepperoni, sausage, meatballs), and “Maui” (bacon, ham, pineapple). You can also order custom pizzas as well as varieties of calzones, salads, and appetizers.

Smoked Kitchen & Tap at Piedmont Place offers slow smoked, hickory BBQ, as well as salads burgers, and sandwiches. And The Rooftop, just upstairs, is Crozet’s sky bar with gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountain views, cocktails, and a small plates menu that includes flatbread pizza.

View from the patio at Restoration.
View from the patio at Restoration.

If you’re looking for something more filling, there’s Restoration at Old Trail Village, which specializes in high-end comfort food. Menu items include croquet monsieur, pan seared salmon, and friend chicken & waffles, which comes with apple cider bacon gastrique and can be further upgraded by substituting duck confit for the fried chicken. In addition to the elegant interior, there is outdoor patio seating that overlooks the Old Trail Golf Club course.

Crozet Arts & Crafts Festival

Twice a year, in May and October, the Crozet Arts & Crafts Festival brings its lively and celebratory vibe to Claudius Crozet Park for a weekend of festivities. White tents dot the landscape while local singers and musicians perform, and the air fills with the aromas of foods as varied as kettle corn, funnel cake, fried onions, Thai noodles, and quesadillas.

The Crozet/Western Albemarle Library

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn September 2013, after years of being housed in the old depot, the Crozet/Western Albemarle Library opened the doors to its new, permanent home in downtown Crozet. It has a growing collection and space that allows for 75,000 volumes of books.

Mint Springs Valley Park

This 520-acre park includes four hiking trails, picnic areas and grills, 8 acres of water, and a one-acre beach. Swimming is allowed from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, except when county schools are in session. There is a small entry fee for both county residents and non-county residents, or season passes are available for purchase. As long as you have a fishing license, you will also be able to fish for the stocked trout, sunfish, channel catfish, and large-mouth bass.

Historic Garden Week

This month visitors and residents of Virginia will have the opportunity to visit over 250 gardens, homes, and landmarks during Historic Garden Week. This event, organized and operated by the Garden Club of Virginia, has been in existence since 1933! This year’s Historic Garden Week, which runs from April 22-27, 2017, consists of 30 distinct tours, including several in and around Charlottesville.

Located just down the road from James Monroe’s Highland and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Morven (Scottish for “Great Mountain”) is an extensive estate of nearly 3,000 acres with a long history. Thomas Jefferson purchased 1,334 acres in 1795 and leased plots of land to local farmers. In 1813, he transferred ownership of the property to David Higginbotham, who gave it the name Morven and oversaw construction of the main house. The estate was owned by three more families before Charles and Mary Stone purchased it in 1926. By 1933, Mary Stone had revived the formal gardens and opened them to visitors for the first ever Virginia Garden Week. Morven has remained part of the Virginia Garden Week every year since. In 1988, businessman and philanthropist John W. Kluge purchased the Morven estate. During his ownership, Kluge ordered construction of a Japanese garden, which remains part of the garden tour. In 2001, Kluge donated over 7,000 acres of the estate to the University of Virginia Foundation, which now maintains it and uses it for educational purposes.

The Albemarle County House and Garden Tour will consist of five properties: Southfield—20 acres of trees, shrubs, and perennials; Choill Mhor—meaning “Great Woods” in Gaelic, a manor house built in 2005 that sits on 50 acres with many native and non-native plants; Midway—an early 19th-century farmhouse with several hundred acres and a formal garden; The Laing House—a custom home built in 2007 with mountain and river views, surrounded by informal gardens; and Fox Ridge—a 280-acre equestrian farm that includes a 19th-century log cabin and boxwood gardens.

At the University of Virginia, the Pavilion Gardens, Pavilion homes, and the president’s house, Carr’s Hill, will be part of the tour. On the only American university campus (or “grounds”) designated a World Heritage site, you can enjoy the historic serpentine walls and restored gardens. Carr’s Hill, built circa 1890, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Also on the tour is the Morea Garden on Sprigg Lane, which features a botanical collection.

According to the Virginia Garden Week website, “Tour proceeds fund the restoration and preservation of more than 40 of Virginia’s historic public gardens and landscapes, a research fellowship program and a centennial project with Virginia State Parks.” These restoration projects include sites at the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest in Lynchburg, James Madison’s Montpelier in Orange County, and Point of Honor—an antebellum plantation-turned-museum—in Lynchburg.

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.