The distinctive rooster outside Lumpkin's Restaurant & Motel greets visitors as they head into the historic district.
Price Range: $32,225-$4,250,000
Schools: Scottsville, Walton, Monticello
Pros: relaxed atmosphere, outdoor recreation, proximity to James River
Cons: commute to Charlottesville, limited activities especially in wintertime
Situated on the horseshoe bend of the James River in southern Albemarle County, the town of Scottsville is no stranger to water issues. Since its founding in 1744, Scottsville has been beleaguered by floods. More recently, the town has been mentioned in the news in conjunction with the hot water that controversial Board of Supervisors member Christopher Dumler has found himself in. But there’s more to this tiny town than water, of either the literal or figurative variety.
Back when rivers were the primary means of travel, Scottsville served as the westernmost center of government for the state of Virginia. Even when railroads replaced waterways as the preferred means of travel, Scottsville continued to thrive. It wasn’t until the train stopped carrying passengers that the town transitioned from a bustling commerce center to the sleepy getaway it is today.
But for a sleepy getaway boasting a population of approximately 550, Scottsville has a lot to offer. There are numerous restaurants representing a full spectrum of cuisine, from the soft-serve ice cream found at Twist to the more upscale dishes served at the High Meadows Inn. The Horseshoe Bend Taphouse, the Tavern on the James, and Joe’s Pool Hall & Sports Bar all offer live entertainment, giving locals the option of enjoying after-hours activities close to home.
Scottsville is home to four parks: Totier Creek, Dorrier, Bruce, and the Levee Walk. Those seeking a bit of adventure can book canoeing, kayaking, fishing, tubing, rafting or camping trips with either James River Reeling & Rafting or James River Runners. Folks seeking an adventure of another type can commemorate their experiences by getting inked at the nearby Pirates & Emporers tattoo shop.
The area described as Scottsville in the local MLS extends well beyond the official town boundaries, and a number of the current listings designated as such lie as close to Charlottesville as they do to Scottsville. The 19 available properties range in price from $114,000 to $4,250,000,\ and in size from approximately one-quarter of an acre to over 100 acres. Since the beginning of 2011, there have been 43 sales of Scottsville-area properties with prices between $32,225-$2,300,000 and sizes ranging from less than a quarter of an acre to nearly 300 acres.
Debi Dotson, a Scottsville resident and real estate agent with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate III, feels that the 19-mile commute between Scottsville and Charlottesville is a worthwhile trade-off for living in a delightful town with a relaxed atmosphere.
“We have really great restaurants, the theater just opened up, there’s a farmer’s market, we’re close to the James River, and it’s a great walking town,” Dotson says. “Buyers sometimes think that the commute will be big, but it turns out not to be a problem especially since Scottsville has a nicer mix of activities than other small towns. And," she adds, "the travel time to Charlottesville isn’t any longer than it is to Free Union or to parts of Earlysville.”
Scottsville resident Jade Sharp agrees that the town offers just about everything she needs. “There’s a grocery store, there are restaurants, hair salons, gas stations, a dollar store,” she says.
But there is one thing Sharp usually shops for elsewhere. “If I need clothes, I go to the mall, to Fashion Square. That’s usually why I go to Charlottesville.”
Like Dotson, Sharp sees Scottsville’s size as an advantage. “It’s quiet,” she says. “There’s not a lot of traffic and most everybody knows each other.” As to disadvantages, she observes, “Sometimes– especially in winter–there’s not a whole lot to do.”
But with annual events like the James River Batteau Festival and the Fourth of July parade coming up, and with Hatton Ferry re-opening for the season, there's likely to be plenty of activity for the next few months. This is good news for Sharp, who works as a server at the Tavern on the James.
“We get a lot of visitors in the summer,” she says with a smile.