Infrequently Asked Questions | VIRGINIA Magazine

Infrequently Asked Questions

We’ve got answers, even if nobody was asking. Our summer list of UVA fun facts.

Which Corner businesses are the oldest?

Not long after UVA started classes in 1825, a commercial district took root where the road leading into Charlottesville’s downtown intersected with the edge of Grounds. The Corner, it came to be called. While that stretch of businesses has seen a lot of change, and no original establishment remains, you’ll still experience a bit of the past when you enter the doors of these longstanding popular spots.

The Virginian restaurant on the Corner

The Virginian, 1923

The oldest establishment on the Corner (and, some say, the oldest restaurant in Charlottesville) is approaching its centennial celebration. History lives on not only in the building itself but even in the menu items, such as the Stumble Down Mac N’ Cheese—named after the pool hall that used to occupy the basement. Although the Corner technically isn’t on Grounds, owner Andy McClure (Com ’01) is quick to say that “every incoming student probably thinks the Corner is part of UVA.”

Photo: Steve Hedberg

Mincer’s store on the Corner

Mincer’s, 1948

When it first opened as Mincer’s Humidor, college men wore coats and ties and smoked pipes and cigarettes. When the store moved down the street to its current location (becoming Mincer’s Pipe Shop), it broadened its offerings and served as the go-to place for whatever students needed: records, school supplies, custom-blended tobacco and Western Union money orders, according to owner Mark Mincer (Com ’85), grandson of the founder. Times changed, and a few specialty T-shirts evolved into the sports apparel business we know today. Still family-owned, and that’s saying something.

Photo: Steve Hedberg

The College Inn restaurant on the Corner

College Inn, 1953

You know you’re a landmark when generations had your phone number memorized so they could call for takeout in the wee hours of the morning. When co-owner Stuart Rifkin mentions the College Inn to alumni he meets as he travels, more than a few will respond without skipping a beat: “977-2710.” While the Internet has changed how students place orders, the bulk of the College Inn’s business (400-500 customers a day) is still delivery, with orders taken up until 2 a.m. “Often, university students will call at 1:45 when they get their last beer, and we’re delivering until 2:30 or 3,” Rifkin says. The favorite order for those early-morning munchies? Pizza and cheesy bread. “The UVA students live for our cheesy bread.”

Photo: Steve Hedberg

The White Spot restaurant on the Corner

The White Spot, 1953

The restaurant has been through several owners since it opened on the site of the University Beauty Salon. The current owner, Dimitrios Tavampis, says the restaurant’s signature dish is the Gus Burger, served with a fried egg on top. Of course, you can add all the usual extras, such as tomato, onions, pickles, even bacon. But on a weekend evening—when Tavampis says he can sell 500-600 Gus Burgers—burger eaters are minimalists: “Eighty percent of people order with ketchup and lettuce,” he insists. “Ketchup, lettuce, ketchup, lettuce. Most kids order two, three, doubles.”

Photo: Steve Hedberg

What are the most popular intramural sports?

There’s no need to be a varsity athlete to continue playing a sport you love. Or to try a new one, according to Matt O’Connor, director of intramural and club sports. Since at least the 1930s, UVA students, faculty and staff have competed in intramural sports as commonplace as basketball and flag football or as unexpected as cornhole and inner tube water polo (“the most fun intramural sport I’ve played,” O’Connor says). No experience required, seriously. And while bridge, bowling and boxing are no longer on the intramural roster, here are the current most popular intramural sports at UVA—“the four big-dog sports, if you will.”

Students playing soccer

Outdoor soccer

Even if you’ve never seen a soccer ball before, O’Connor says, “come out and just have fun.” UVA fields about 120 teams each year.

Photo: Juliette Christian

Students playing basketball

Basketball

This sport almost ties outdoor soccer in popularity, with nearly as many teams.

Photo: Ashley Gailey

Students playing sand volleyball

Sand volleyball

Getting together with friends on warm fall evenings when the sun is still shining makes this sport a huge draw, drawing about 100 teams.

Photo: Juliette Christian

Students playing soccer

Indoor soccer

Soccer of any form is a win in central Virginia, and this is played on a short field, with only seven on a side.

Photo: Juliette Christian

As an added bonus, O’Connor recalls some of his favorite intramural team names from 2017–18:

  • Ruth Batter Winsburg (softball)
  • ManchestHair United (soccer)
  • Twerk Nowitzki (basketball)
  • Kiss My Pass (flag football)
  • Itsy Bitsy Spikers (volleyball)

Can you name UVA’s top dogs?

While UVA has never named an official dog, the students have certainly done so. Official or not, more than a few canines have wagged their way into people’s hearts—greeting new and old friends alike while strolling the Grounds or wandering classroom halls. Obviously, there’s not room to tell of all the pups who have called UVA home over the years, but here are a few.

Beta

Beta

Named for his home turf, the Beta Theta Pi House, Beta was a black-and-white mongrel who was welcome all over Grounds in the 1920s and ’30s. As one story has it, he showed up for a course in Cabell Hall so frequently that his name was added to the roll call. And, of course, when you keep company with college students, you taste more than a few beers. Beta eventually died in 1939 after being struck by a car, and an estimated 1,000 mourners showed up for his funeral.

Photo: Special Collections, UVA Library

Seal

Seal

Almost a decade after Beta’s death, starting in about 1947, another mutt took up the mantle of unofficial mascot to the football team. Seal was also welcomed into lecture halls, fraternities and even local restaurants. His fame reached its height in fall 1949, when he lifted his leg to the megaphone belonging to a cheerleader on the opposing Penn team. When Seal died in 1953, his funeral procession topped 1,500. He was laid to rest next to Beta in the University Cemetery.

Photo: Special Collections, UVA Library

Noble

Noble

When your dog is returned to you in the front seat of a police cruiser, or when students tweet, “Hey, Noble is in back of the engineering building” and someone brings him home for you—well, you know he’s earned a reputation. “Noble was unbelievably good as an escape artist,” says Wayne Cozart, vice president for development with the UVA Alumni Association and director of the Jefferson Trust. Cozart and his wife, Pat Lampkin (Educ ’86), vice president for student affairs and chief student affairs officer, brought their tricolor collie with them when they moved to the Lawn in 2005. The battery-powered invisible fences at the three gates to their back garden were helpful, to a point. “The problem with battery-powered [fences],” Cozart explains, “is that the battery dies. Noble was uncannily, uncannily capable of recognizing when the battery died and then would immediately escape,” heading straight for the Lawn “until he recognized someone who would pay attention to him.” Noble died in 2013 at age 12, yet in 2009 he earned high honors when the outgoing Student Council president proposed a resolution, which passed, declaring Noble the official “University Dog.”

Photo: Dan Addison

Baxter and Jack, a.k.a. CavDog and CavPup

Baxter and Jack

A friendly golden retriever named Baxter became a celebrity both on Grounds and across the internet in 2008, when he began appearing on a blog hosted by his owner, associate dean of admissions Jeannine Lalonde. Often wearing a UVA bowtie, Baxter soon earned the nickname CavDog as he greeted current and prospective students and their parents. Before he died in 2015, CavDog was joined by a golden retriever puppy named Jack, who quickly outgrew the moniker “CavPup” as he learned the ropes from his older brother. Their distinct personalities really showed up during Days on the Lawn. With Baxter, Lalonde explains, “when we would sing ‘The Good Old Song,’ I would drop the leash and he would just stand there and hang out.” But with Jack, Days on the Lawn can quickly become Squirrels on the Lawn. “I still have to hold the leash,” Lalonde says, “because as soon as he sees something, he wants to check it out”—whether that be squirrels, the marching band, Cav Man or simply some friendly students.

Photo: Sanjay Suchak

George

George

While Beta and Seal were unabashed mutts, George was an award-winning greater Swiss mountain dog—“Best of Breed” at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2012. Weighing in at 145 pounds, he was nonetheless a gentle, goofy giant and even made an appearance in the kissing booth at a dance marathon. Certified as a therapy dog, George visited patients at the UVA Medical Center. “People got Swissies because they met George in the hospital,” says his co-owner Nancy Kechner (Educ ’83, ’05), UVA women’s club rugby coach (recently named USA Rugby Female College Coach of the Year) and research and computing specialist for UVA libraries. When he wasn’t winning titles, George hung out with the team. After Kechner had to have George put down in 2016, the house was just too quiet, she says. So she adopted Rex and then Teddy (George’s grandson)—also Swissies.

Photo: Dan Addison

What’s in, what’s out at the dining hall?

Nothing stays the same. Not in life, and certainly not in the dining hall. Consider what’s “in” and what’s “out” at each of UVA’s three main dining halls, according to the food-service company Aramark.

What’s in:

Photos: UVA Dining (4), Tom Daly

Buffalo chicken wings

Buffalo chicken wings. Students asked for them (it never hurts to ask), and they’re a winner on “Wahoo Wing Wednesday” at Newcomb Hall’s Fresh Food Co.

Macaroni and cheese

Macaroni and cheese. Carb-loaded comfort food at its finest. And who doesn’t love a “build your own mac-and-cheese bar”? Again, visit Newcomb Hall for this one.

Vegetarian options

Virginia Local Station. Newcomb Hall’s all-vegetarian station, with a minimum of three items sourced locally.

O’Hill chicken and waffles

O’Hill chicken and waffles. “Chicken and Waffles Wednesday” features a custom syrup on top of a Rotunda waffle and fried chicken. So many good calories.

Wood Stone pizza oven at Runk

Pizza. This classic go-to across all dining rooms nevertheless takes it up a notch when baked in the Wood Stone pizza oven at Runk.

What’s out:

  • Nuts (except in clearly marked bakery items). You just can’t be too safe when it comes to allergies.
  • Frozen beef patties. Welcome to beef that’s now sourced from Seven Hills Food, a Virginia family farm just down the road.
  • Non-halal fresh chicken. This decision makes food options more inclusive for everyone.
  • Non-cage-free eggs. Here’s to responsible sourcing and more humane practices.
  • Frozen vegetables. To put it simply: Fresh veggies taste better.

What books are current bestsellers at the UVA Bookstore?

Here’s what’s been catching the attention of readers this year, July 2017 through June 2018:

  1. Wait, What? And Life’s Other Essential Questions by James E. Ryan (Law ’92)
  2. Mr. Jefferson’s Telescope: A History of the University of Virginia in 100 Objects by Brendan Wolfe
  3. Hoos in the Kitchen by Melissa Palombi
  4. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
  5. Obama: An Intimate Portrait by Pete Souza

What student groups have been around the longest?

With UVA’s emphasis on student leadership and responsibility, it’s no surprise that from the beginning, student organizations have played a major part in shaping University life and policies and providing the all-important fuel that grows a community. But it might be surprising to learn that even as times and cultures change, some things remain the same.

Jefferson Society meeting

Jefferson Literary and Debating Society, 1825, first student organization

Founded only a few months after UVA opened, the Jefferson Society continues its tradition of rousing debates and literary presentations that reflect what matters to UVA students. A glance through some of the archived minutes from its meetings quickly reveals that while some issues stay the same (concerns over the Honor System), others have decidedly shifted (whether women should be admitted to the University). If it matters to the student body, the Jefferson Society will be opening up a debate about it. Famous members over the years have included Woodrow Wilson, Edgar Allan Poe, and Virginia governor and UVA President Colgate Darden.

Photo: Stacey Evans

Delta Kappa Epsilon house

Delta Kappa Epsilon, 1852, first Greek organization

Secret societies have long been part of University life. Over the years, some became not-so-secret, and others held onto their mysterious aura. Delta Kappa Epsilon’s launch as a secret group caused UVA to initially refuse formal recognition. Soon, however, Greek organizations became an integral part of student life. Chi Omega was the first women’s fraternity established at UVA, in 1927 (before the term sorority was in use, and almost half a century before undergraduate admissions would fully enroll women). African-American fraternities and sororities were first established in 1973. Today, 61 Greek organizations exist at UVA: 38 fraternities, 22 sororities and one gender-inclusive LGBTQ fraternity.

Photo: File photo

Virginia Glee Club

Virginia Glee Club, 1871, oldest musical group

In powerful four-part harmony, the Glee Club has performed on both national and international stages. Its original name—Cabell House Men—indicated its composition (all-male) and what would become its primary home concert location (Old Cabell Hall). Some famous names lent their voices to the Glee Club over the years, including Woodrow Wilson (who sang first tenor during the 1879–1880 season) and future UVA President Frank Hereford (second tenor during the 1941–42 season). World War II caused considerable disruption during Hereford’s participation, according to the Virginia Glee Club Wiki pages: “Though the Club continued activities on Grounds, they cancelled out of town singing engagements owing to the shortage of tires.” In 1953, the Glee Club spun off UVA’s first a cappella group, the Virginia Gentlemen, giving it a considerable head start on pop culture’s current love of a cappella (think Pitch Perfect).

Photo: Jason O. Watson

Contemporary members of the Mystic Order of Eli Banana

The Mystic Order of Eli Banana, 1878, first ribbon society

Named thus because members wore a ribbon on their lapel to indicate their loyalty, ribbon societies were powerful forces in early student life—combining hijinks with altruism, often but not always in secret. As quoted in the 1895 Corks and Curls: “The air of mystery about these ribbon societies, the prominence of their members, the beautiful and artistic little dry-goods samples they wear pinned upon their bosoms, all conspire to make an election to one of them the great object of every man from the very moment he matriculates.” Eli Banana went on to start a philanthropic fund, the board members of which hold such titles as “chairman” and “treasurer,” as might be expected—but also “old green banana” and “grand banana.” The mission of the Eli Banana Fund, in part, reads: “Giving back to the great University that has put up with us since 1878.”

Photo: File photo

Corks and Curls yearbooks

Corks and Curls, 1888, longest-running publication

The editors voiced in the preface of its inaugural edition: “Be it successful or unsuccessful, let us hope that it will at least be permanent.” Apart from the year 1945, when publication temporarily ceased during World War II, this student-run yearbook had a hearty run for 119 years. After a gap of six years, starting in 2009, Corks and Curls again resumed publication in 2015. According to Mr. Jefferson’s University by Virginius Dabney, “to ‘cork’ in class was to flunk, while to ‘curl’ was to make a high grade.” Early editions contained multiple personal references easily understood by its close-knit community. Now, with a readership of more than 16,000 undergrads, Corks and Curls takes a broader look at all aspects of student life.

Photo: File photo

1888 football team

Football, 1888, oldest intercollegiate sports team

Both football and baseball were played on Grounds as early as the 1870s, “including one reference to a contest against Washington and Lee in 1871, of which there is no record of the game or score,” according to The University of Virginia Football Vault. Virginia officially launched a football team in 1888, beginning with a 20-0 win over Pantops Academy, a private boys’ school nearby. The second game featured a win over another unusual opponent: a combined team from Virginia Theological Seminary and Episcopal High School in Alexandria. A true intercollegiate matchup didn’t occur until game three, against Johns Hopkins University. UVA lost, 0-26, ending its short inaugural season. According to some intriguing statistics from the 1888 edition of Corks and Curls, the heaviest student that year weighed only 184 pounds, so these first football players were far from bruisers.

Photo: Special Collections, UVA Library