From Time to Time

See the evolution of spots around Grounds

Ever since the cornerstone of Pavilion VII—the Academical Village’s first building—was laid in October 1817, Grounds has been in a constant state of evolution. Buildings are erected and renovated, demolished and replaced. Take a look at how some of the most familiar spots have changed—or remained the same—over time.

Lambeth Field

Lambeth Field, c. 1914 Lambeth Field, 2016

Historical Photo: c. 1914, Holsinger Collection, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

Lambeth Field, named for the University’s “father of athletics,” William Alexander Lambeth, was an early athletic field, used for football, baseball and track. In A Pictorial History of the University of Virginia, William B. O’Neal says that workers moved more than 48,000 cubic yards of earth for the field’s construction in 1901. The Lambeth Colonnade, an 8,000-seat stadium loosely based on classical amphitheaters, was built between 1911 and 1913, replacing wooden bleachers. In the early 20th century, the field was the site of spring training for a number of baseball teams, including the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Senators, now the Minnesota Twins, according to a 2014 Virginia Magazine article. Lambeth was also UVA football’s home field until Scott Stadium was finished in 1931. The Lambeth Field apartments were finished in 1974. In recent years, the field has hosted intramural sports events and outdoor concerts.

Mad Bowl

Mad Bowl, c. 1914 Mad Bowl, 2016

Historical Photo: c. 1914, Holsinger Collection, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

In 1914, the sunken field between Rugby Road and Madison Lane was owned by the University’s chapter of the YMCA, which occupied Madison Hall. One of the University’s first athletic fields, the area was graded and used for athletics before the Rotunda fire of 1895, according to University of Virginia: An Architectural Tour. Mad Bowl featured tennis courts and a running track. The University bought Madison Hall and the field in 1971. Once the venue for raucous Easters parties, Mad Bowl is now used for intramural sports events. The houses along Madison Lane were constructed as fraternity houses beginning in 1902.

The Corner

The Corner, early 1920s The Corner, 2016

Historical Photo: early 1920s, Alumni Association Archive

A view of the UVA Corner in the early 1920s shows the Chancellor Building, built in 1914, which held Chancellor’s Drug Store, a billiard parlor and a restaurant, as well as one-room student apartments upstairs, according to Coy Barefoot’s The Corner: A History of Student Life at the University of Virginia. Today, that building houses a Qdoba Mexican restaurant and two clothing stores. Anderson Brothers Bookstore, to the left of the Chancellor Building, operated for 112 years on the Corner, until it was sold to Follet’s, a national college bookstore chain, in 1988. After Follet’s closed in 1997, the building was home to Plan 9 Music and Satellite Ballroom. Since 2008, the building has housed a CVS franchise.

Cabell Hall Peristyle

Cabell Hall Peristyle, c. 1914 Cabell Hall Peristyle, 2016

Historical Photo: c. 1914, Holsinger Collection, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

In the second edition of the campus guide University of Virginia: An Architectural Tour, UVA architectural historian Richard Guy Wilson points out that “the intended primary approach to the Academical Village had been from the south.” But when Cabell Hall was built in 1898 to house the College of Arts & Sciences after the Rotunda Annex perished in the 1895 fire, it blocked the southward-facing view of the mountains.

But thanks to these open-air courtyards, Lawn-goers still had an “extensive” view, say Lewis D. Crenshaw, Sallie J. Doswell and John S. Patton in their 1915 book, Jefferson’s University: Glimpses of the Past and Present of the University of Virginia.

Today, the climbing vines have been taken down and a few more buildings have gone up, but the views mostly remain.

McIntire Amphitheatre

Amphitheater, c. 1920 Amphitheater, 2016

Historical Photo: c. 1920, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

Funded by UVA alumnus and Charlottesville arts philanthropist Paul Goodloe McIntire and designed by head of the architecture school Fiske Kimball, McIntire Amphitheatre was commissioned as part of the University’s centennial celebration and was to be used for public outdoor concerts and other performances, says Richard Guy Wilson in his campus guide, University of Virginia: An Architectural Tour.

Completed in 1921, the amphitheater was the seventh—and at the time, the largest—modern Greek theater to be built in the U.S. “since 1900, in response to the increasing demand for outdoor spectacles and because of the revival of interest in the Greek drama,” according to a New York Times article at the time.

The amphitheater was first used in spring 1921 for UVA’s centennial exercises, which had been delayed from 1919 because of World War I, and final exercises were held there through the 1940s.

A 2010 UVA Today article says that the amphitheater was threatened with demolition in the 1960s, but then paved and used as a parking lot in the 1970s before being returned to a performance space by the end of that decade. Bryan Hall was built right behind it in 1995, but otherwise, the space hasn’t changed much, and it’s still used regularly for a variety of events, such as Tina Fey’s 2013 arts speech, ROTC’s annual Veteran’s Day POW-MIA 24-hour vigil, and student jazz group performances. Almost daily, students sit on the amphitheater steps to study or eat lunch from food trucks parked nearby.

University Chapel

University Chapel, c. 1920 University Chapel, 2016

Historical Photo: c. 1920, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

The University gained a reputation as a “heathen institution” in the 19th century, according to University of Virginia: An Architectural Tour, by UVA architecture professor Richard Guy Wilson and Sara A. Butler (Arch ’96, Grad ’01). Proposals for a chapel on Grounds started as early as 1835, and funds were finally raised in the late 1880s by the Ladies Chapel Aid Society, the local YMCA and alumni, according to the 2008 University Chapel Historic Structure Report. Designed by UVA alumnus Charles E. Cassell and opened in 1890, the Gothic-style chapel was originally considered for the Lawn, but the Board of Visitors decided to place it on the northwest side of the Rotunda. According to the Cavalier Daily, the average annual number of weddings held in the Chapel from 2008–15 was 106.

Cabell Hall Lobby

Cabell Hall Lobby, c. 1914 Cabell Hall Lobby, 2016

Historical Photo: c. 1914, Holsinger Collection, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

While the architecture of Cabell Hall’s lobby has remained mostly the same since the 1914 photo, its adornments have changed quite a bit. The lobby once housed copies of some of the most famous Greek sculptures from Classical Antiquity: Praxiteles’ Hermes and the Infant Dionysus, Alexandros of Antioch’s Venus de Milo, Myron’s Discobolus and Leochares’ Apollo Belvedere. Portraits of Joseph C. Cabell, J.E.B. Stuart, Robert E. Lee, Colonel Charles S. Venable and other scholars, statesmen and soldiers—all from the University’s art collection—hung on the lobby walls, according to Philip Alexander Bruce’s History of the University of Virginia, 1819–1919.

Now, the statues and portraits are gone, and the lobby walls are covered by “The Student’s Progress,” a 29-panel mural by Lincoln Perry that follows a fictional student, Shannon, through her undergraduate days at UVA and into adulthood.

Alderman Interior

Alderman Interior, c. 1938 Alderman Interior, 2016

Historical Photo: c. 1938, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

According to the UVA Library website, by the early 1930s, the reading room in the Rotunda could only hold half of the University library’s 195,000-volume collection. The University’s first president, Edwin Alderman, had proposed the construction of a new library in a 1924 Founder’s Day address, but the project was delayed by the Great Depression until after Alderman’s death. His successor, John Newcomb, made the library a priority, eventually securing partial funding for the project from the Public Works Administration. Designed by Robert E. Lee Taylor, Alderman Library was completed in 1938 at a cost of $950,909, according to the University of Virginia Library’s online exhibition, “History of the Virginia Library.” The “new stacks” expansion was completed in 1967 to house the library’s growing collection. Now home to Alderman Café, the Scholars’ Lab, the Rare Book School and electronic resources, Alderman was originally built to accommodate 600,000 volumes and 1,000 readers.

Anatomical Theater

Anatomical Theater, June 16, 1939 Anatomical Theater Location, 2016

Historical Photo: June 16, 1939, Date of Demolition, Atcheson Laughlin Hench

The Anatomical Theater, designed by Jefferson in 1825 and built within a year, is the only Jefferson-designed building on Grounds to be torn down.

When UVA’s first professor of anatomy and surgery Dr. Robley Dunglison arrived on Grounds and moved into Pavilion X—where he was expected to teach classes on the first floor and reside on the second floor—he refused to perform cadaver dissections in the first floor front room, in a space right above the cook’s kitchen and an enslaved living space in the basement, says UVA history professor and associate dean for the College of Arts & Sciences Kirt von Daacke (Col ’97). In response, Jefferson designed the anatomical theater, complete with a tiered observation amphitheater to afford medical students a good view of the demonstrations.

By the 1840s, the medical school student body had grown, and so had the demand for corpses: von Daacke estimates that the school needed between 25 and 50 bodies (or more) each year for dissections. Anatomical demonstrations on very recently deceased—and usually not embalmed—corpses was common in American medical schools at the time, so the bodies used were almost always stolen from nearby graves, von Daacke says. “The grave-robbing was almost entirely from gravesites of free people of color or enslaved graveyards. So, the vast majority of the bodies dissected in the anatomical theater at least through the 1880s were certainly African Americans,” he says.

While grave-robbing was technically illegal at the time, von Daacke says that the law was not enforced, and no one seemed particularly concerned about robbing the graves of black bodies. Other bodies were brought in from all over the state, or sneakily taken from local gravesites in the night, according to Philip Alexander Bruce’s History of the University of Virginia, 1819–1919.

By the early 1930s, dissections had moved from the Anatomical Theater to a newer building in the medical complex. The Anatomical Theater was demolished in 1939, not long after Alderman Library opened just behind it, but the hall’s bricks were salvaged and used to repair the serpentine walls and other original Jeffersonian buildings.

Beta Bridge

Beta Bridge, c. 1969 Beta Bridge, 2016

Historical Photo: c. 1969, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

The first documented painting of Beta Bridge occurred in 1926, when students splashed paint on the 3-year-old bridge. The graffiti in this 1969 photo looks downright subdued compared to the more garish slogans and designs that now appear almost daily, but don’t let that fool you; rowdiness on the bridge is far from new. The modern tradition of painting Beta Bridge seems to have begun in 1967, when St. Patrick’s Day revelers painted the bridge green, according to a 2007 article for Virginia Magazine. Some rival painters responded by painting the bridge red and adding the words “God Save the Queen.” Authorities were less accepting of such extracurricular activity on city property around that time—five Charlottesville students were caught and arrested in 1971.

Cocke Hall

Cocke Hall, c. 1898 Cocke Hall, 2016

Historical Photo: c. 1898, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

Stanford White designed Cocke Hall, along with Rouss Hall and Cabell Hall, after the 1895 Rotunda fire and the loss of the academic space in the Rotunda Annex. The new buildings closed off the south end of the Lawn, but, according to the University of Virginia Library’s “From Village to Grounds” exhibition, White’s design took advantage of the Lawn’s natural slope and terracing so that the buildings “would not compete with the Academical Village.” Construction was completed in 1898. Now home to the philosophy and classics departments, Cocke Hall originally held a mechanical laboratory. The McIntire Amphitheatre was completed in 1921, and the clock in the pediment was added in the 1920s, a 2006 Virginia Magazine article notes.

Memorial Gym Interior

Memorial Gym Interior, c. 1940 Memorial Gym Interior, 2016

Historical Photo: c. 1940, Richard D. Anderson, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

Now the home of the volleyball and wrestling teams, in addition to numerous club and intramural sports teams, Memorial Gymnasium once hosted the varsity boxing team. A 2013 Virginia Magazine list of “Five Vanished Traditions” notes that boxing matches were held in Mem Gym from 1927 until the University eliminated boxing as a varsity sport in 1955. Memorial Gym was the UVA basketball team’s home court until the completion of University Hall in 1965. It was also the site of many concerts, from Louis Armstrong to Chuck Berry, and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “stab in the back” speech.

Memorial Gym Exterior

Memorial Gym Exterior, Undated Memorial Gym Exterior, 2016

Historical Photo: Undated, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

Memorial Gymnasium, named in honor of University students and alumni who died fighting in World War I, was completed in 1924. According to The Campus Guide: University of Virginia by Richard Guy Wilson and Sara A. Butler (Arch ’96, Grad ’01), the building was placed at the bottom of a hill to the west of the Lawn to avoid upstaging the Rotunda. In a 2003 interview with The Hook, media studies professor Coy Barefoot said that dirt excavated to make room for the gym’s foundation was used to fill in part of University Pond, to the building’s east, producing a smaller reflecting pool. In 1952, the pool was drained and filled in to create a parking lot and an athletic field, now known as Nameless Field, according to Charlottesville by Eryn S. Brennan and Margaret Maliszewski.

Scott Stadium

Scott Stadium, c. 1930 Scott Stadium, 2016

Historical Photo: c. 1930, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia; modern photo enhanced

By the late 1920s, UVA sports had more fans than Lambeth Field could hold, so alumnus and then-University rector Frederic W. Scott funded the 25,000-seat Scott Stadium, built between 1929 and 1931. The stadium was just the second University-built structure west of Emmet Street (the first was McCormick Observatory), says Richard Guy Wilson in his book University of Virginia: An Architectural Tour, and it was distanced both spatially and architecturally from the Academical Village. Scott Stadium’s arcaded brick exterior walls, curving colonnaded walkway and perimeter pavilions were designed as a nod to the Lambeth Colonnade, Wilson says.

Today, the stadium—which has undergone a number of expansions over the past 50 years—can seat more than 60,000 fans for home football games and the occasional special guest, like the Rolling Stones, who rocked the stadium during their 2005 A Bigger Bang Tour.

Sigma Phi House

Sigma Phi, c. 1911 Sigma Phi, 2016

Historical Photo: c. 1911, Alumni Association Archive

According to a 1984 National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the Rugby Road and University Corner district, the Georgian Revival house at 163 Rugby Road was built in 1911 for Delta Tau Delta fraternity and stands at the center of the University’s only planned fraternity quadrangle. In 1908, the Board of Visitors hired Boston landscape architect Warren Manning to create a master plan for the University Grounds, one that kept inevitable physical growth consistent with Jefferson’s intentions; this quadrangle was one of just a few of Manning’s ideas that came to be. The other two buildings in that quadrangle, Kappa Sigma’s McCormick Hall and Chi Phi House, were built in 1910–11 and 1922, respectively. In 1946, this house became home to the Serpentine Club, a student group that joined Sigma Phi Society in 1953.