Our Town - Newcomer's info

The Hook Hornbook


Pronouncing Monticello

Although nearly 100 percent of the intelligentsia in this town says "Mon-ti-CHELL-o," quite a lot of bright folks– especially northern transplants living in Fluvanna– say, "mon-ti-SELL-o" or that quirky southern variant, "monna-SELL-uh."


Channel 29


Local NBC affiliate supposedly not named after our biggest road. Bright red jackets come out during winter storms. It faces competition for the first time now that the other three networks all set up Charlottesville stations in the last year.


Rio Road


"Rio," which means "river" in Spanish, was most likely used as a name for the old mill and bridge on this road because of their proximity to the Rivanna River. But the Spanish word is pronounced "Ree-o," some may point out. True, but locals at the time may have opted for the long "i" sound perhaps because it fit with the local pronunciation of the "RY-vanna" river. No one knows for sure, but they do know this: it was never Route 10.


Downtown Mall


An oasis of hipsterdom and a rare urban success story. Built in 1976, expanded in 1985, crossed by traffic in 1995. It's where the action is– at least on warm Fridays.


Fridays After 5


Free summer concert series held at the east end of the Downtown Mall. Audiences used to sit on a grassy hill which has since been built over in favor of the spankin' new 3,500 seat Charlottesville Pavilion.


The University


The more erudite name for UVA and the full text of one of America's most pretentious bumper stickers.


The Grounds


UVA doesn't have a "campus," it has the Grounds. (And it wasn't built by "TJ;" it was founded by "Mr. Jefferson.") And there's no such thing as a freshman. It's "first year," please.


The Lawn


The original grounds of UVA. Streaking the length of it is considered a rite of passage for students.



The town's olde tyme drugstore downtown. Still delivers. Still has a lunch counter with homemade soup and real ice-cream sodas. The fireplace is a local gathering spot in winter.


The coal tower


Until August of 2001, it was a vestige of Downtown's old railyard. Sadly now, to many it's a symbol of madness, after a deranged killer living there shot two people– one of them a 16-year-old girl.


Garrett Square


The old school name for the low-income housing complex near the Downtown Mall recently renamed "Friendship Court."


County recycling


A cruel joke. On July 1, 2003, the County ended its curbside recycling program for everything but newspapers after the market for bottles, cans, and other landfill-packing stuff collapsed.


Three Chopt Road


Also known as Three Notched Road, this colonial version of a highway is essentially the path of today's Route 250, including such historic stretches as the Downtown Mall and West Main Street.




Probably more famous for being on the unpopular gold dollar coin, she was one of the few non-local folks in the famous Lewis & Clark expedition. According to the February 2003 National Geographic, the subject of more statues than any other American woman, including her crouched appearance here on West Main Street. We're still holding out for a statue of York, the Albemarle-based slave on the trip.


The Omni


Built by City Council vote and lots of taxpayer dollars in the mid-1980s, it's simultaneously a symbol of government excess and a really nice place to stay if you want to stroll the Downtown Mall.




Charlottesville's fastest bagels– and slowest opening schedule. The owner, Brian Fox, hung a "coming soon" banner on the Corner location in 1995. A decade after the sign– and to bagel-lovers' awe and disbelief– Fox finally opened the Corner and placed the third jewel in his bagel crown.


Central College


The original name for UVA. It opened with 123 students in March 1825. The famous founder– if you don't know who this is, we're not telling– died about a year later, on July 4, 1826.


Queen Charlotte Sophia


Wife of King George III, the royal the colonists fought the Revolution against. Fourteen years before waging war against the mother country, the General Assembly of the Virginia Colony elected to name the seat of Albemarle County for this young lady.


The White Spot


It's just a restaurant, but no glossary of the town is complete without mentioning it and its Gus Burger and Grillswith.


Farmington Country Club


Still considered the swankiest place to swing a club, but the past decade has brought stiff competition from Keswick and Glenmore.


Jack Jouett


If there had been a southern poet as sharp as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, schoolchildren might be reading less about Paul Revere and more about this guy, who warned TJ away from death or capture when the British invaded Charlottesville in 1781. Camping out on the lawn of Cuckoo Tavern in Louisa, he spotted some British soldiers moving toward Charlottesville and took off on his trusty steed to spread the alarm.


Beta Bridge


Built over the C&O (now CSX) tracks in 1924 as part of a citywide public works improvement project, it's now Charlottesville's most famous– and most-often-changing– site for public art. During the school year, it's typically repainted almost every day.


Jefferson Cup


Designed by the man himself, these low-volume pewter goblets adorn many a high school and college graduate's shelf of unused drinking vessels.


Meriwether Lewis


Intrepid Ivy-bred explorer of the American West and a private school cleverly disguised as a public school.


Federal Executive Institute


A former hotel on Emmet Street, now the site of a swanky sort of continuing education center for federal bureaucrats– er, executives. Typical tuition: $9,000– paid for by Uncle Sam and you.


"Not gay"


Homophobia still reigns at UVA football games, as some students improvise their own special line in "The Good Old Song," sung to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne."


Three presidents


Besides the ever-present "Mr. Jefferson," Central Virginia lays claim to at least two other presidents: James Madison, whose home, Montpelier, is in nearby Orange County, and James Monroe, whose more modest digs, Ash-Lawn Highland, sit near Monticello on Route 53. Just over the mountain, Woodrow Wilson was born in Staunton.




Who knew that the quest for a nice little horse race in Charlottesville would lead to a rite of spring that has replaced a notorious annual UVA bacchanalian fest? After the early '80s cancellation of "Easters," students needed another outlet for spring fever. They found it at Foxfield. Begun quietly in 1978, the races now draw over 10,000 for spring and fall runnings. However, in recent years, spurred by resident complaints of urine-soaked shrubs and drunk driving, County officials have asked police to keep closer tabs on the shindig. For the spring 2005 races, Foxfield banned guests from bringing in their own alcohol.


Topless bars


None in the city or surrounding counties. And why not? Officially, they're not illegal, but Virginia ABC law requires that all bars be restaurants. That means that 45 percent of its sales would have to come from food sales– and that's a tough ticket when your customers are less interested in surf & turf than T&A.


The Corner


Five blocks of fun. According to historian Coy Barefoot, students began using this moniker for the intersection of University Avenue and the central entrance to the University Grounds (where the fancy "honor" gate was erected in 1915) by 1902. The name stuck and eventually came to include all the real estate for several blocks in either direction.


Sally Hemings


TJ's love interest. Probably buried under the Hampton Inn on West Main. City leaders opted not to rename 10th Street for her a few years ago.


The car bumper statue


That big silver statue outside St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church on Alderman Road is actually made out of old car bumpers. Sculptor/priest Father Henry Mascotte created a statue of a meditating Aquinas in the mid-1960s by piecing together auto salvage from around South Bend, Indiana.


Peter Jefferson and Martha Jefferson


Besides being an office park and a hospital, these are actual people from back in the day. Peter Jefferson was a county surveyor who built a house in Shadwell in 1735 (unfortunately, it burned down), but his greater fame came from having a famous son. Martha Jefferson was TJ's wife. After she died in 1782, he vowed never to remarry, opting to remain a widower for the next 44 years. His vow apparently did not preclude intimacy, however (see above, Sally Hemings).


Vinegar Hill


Considered a slum, this racially mixed but mostly African-American neighborhood of homes and businesses was bulldozed in the early 1960s when "urban renewal" was all the rage. (The art house movie theater by this name opened in 1976.)


Earl Hamner Jr.

Just another kid in the Nelson County town of Schuyler during the Depression, he put his memories on paper, and one of the most long-lasting TV shows was born: The Waltons.




Used to be the bartender at Downtown pub Miller's until he threw it all away and started a band.




Dave's manager. Has a thumb in many a Charlottesville pie including the new pavilion at the end of the Downtown Mall, Starr Hill Brewery and Musictoday.com.




The house that Dave built? Not really; it was promoter Coran Capshaw who kept the place consistently booked before Tuesday-nights-with-DMB became legendary. And lest we forget, DMB had a manager before Capshaw, one Charles Newman. Trax was reduced to rubble in December 2002 to make way for a UVA hospital annex of some sort.




"Virginians are all snobs, and I like snobs. A snob has to spend so much time being a snob that he has little left to meddle with you."–William Faulkner


Screen: Sissy Spacek (Oscar-winning actress), Howie Long (Fox Sports analyst, Radio Shack pitchman), Sister, Sister star Tim Reid and his wife Daphne Maxwell Reid, who are movie producers now, but he'll never be forgotten as WKRP's Venus Flytrap.


Politics: Julian Bond (fiery NAACP chair), Lawrence Eagleburger (frequent Fox News commentator and Secretary of State for about five minutes during administration of Bush 41), Larry Sabato (television's favorite politico talking head), Nathaniel Howell (ambassador to Kuwait during the Gulf War), John Whitehead (religious/civil rights fighter who rose to national prominence by pressing Paula Jones' case against Bill Clinton).


Money: John Kluge (Once the richmest man in the world, he's now ranked #30 by Forbes with a fortune of $11 billion.), Patricia Kluge (billionaire's ex-wife turned businesswoman), Edgar Bronfman (heir to Seagram fortune and bison purveyor)


Music: Dave Matthews (boogie rocker), John McCutcheon (frequent Emmy nominee), Mary Chapin Carpenter (Batesville's resident folkie), Corey Harris (bayou blues).


Fiction: John Grisham (world's #2 novelist– topped only by that clever Rowling lady), Jan Karon (Jessica Mitford series), John Casey (Spartina), Rita Mae Brown (from Rubyfruit Jungle to Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries), Ann Beattie (darling of MFA programs).


Moved away: Muhammed Ali (owned Nelson County property in the mid-80s), Tami Hoag (best-selling author), Tina Fey (SNL head writer and "Weekend Update" anchor went to UVA), Katie Couric (Anerica's favorite morning person happens to be a UVA alumnae), Jessica Lange, Sam Shepard (romantically linked for decades, this thespian couple owned an Albemarle farm until the mid-90s, moved to Minnesota and just bought a co-op in New York), Lawrence Ferlenghetti (renowned poet and founder of San Francisco's City Lights Bookstore, he owned a home on Park Street from 1998 to 2002.)


Sports: Gene Corrigan (longtime ACC Commissioner), Howie Long (see "screen" above)


Poetry: Rita Dove, Charles Wright, George Garrett


Pop Culture: Peter Max (pop artist whose works look like the Yellow Submarine cover) owns land near Yogaville in Buckingham, Cathy Baker Purcell (the "That's all" girl from Hee-Haw) lives in Orange County, Julann Griffin, ex-wife of Merv, co-founder of Jeopardy!, and owns a farm in Fluvanna.


Dead fraud: Anna "Anastasia" Manahan. Claimant to the Russian throne was determined by DNA in 1994 to be not a romantic, missing grand duchess but a delirious Polish peasant who later married a local eccentric.


Community Low-down



Size: 10.8 square miles

Population: 45,049

Annual growth since 1990: 1.26%

Density: 4,331 people per square mile

–source: U.S. Census 2000, amended after a 5,000-person snafu


ALBEMARLE COUNTY (about 3/4 the size of Rhode Island)

Size: 739 square miles

Population: 88,726

Annual growth since 1990: 1.62%

Density: 121 people per square mile




The only town in the county, Scottsville has the distinction of being so small that election to government offices (of which there are many) is hotly contested.

Size: 1.54 square miles

Population: 555

Density: 360.2 people per square mile


What's this area like?


Well, according to a demographic firm called ClaritasExpress, the 22901 and 22902 zip codes consist of the following human types: Up-and-Comers, Boomtown Singles, Mobility Blues, Big Fish, Small Pond, City Startups, Park Bench Seniors, and Suburban Sprawl (as if we needed Claritas to tell us that!). According to the census, which is summarized by many folks, women constitute over 53% of the local population.




Predators nearby?

Virginia requires convicted rapists, pedophiles, and other violent sex offenders to register their whereabouts with the state police. You can search the database to see if there's one living near you. http://sex-offender.vsp.state.va.us./cool-ICE/. Don't get too hung up, though, remember there is always 911 for emergencies.


Noisy neighbors?


CHARLOTTESVILLE– In residential areas of the city, the 10pm-6am limit is 55 decibels (or about the level of loud talking). Charlottesville police are the enforcers on this one and may be willing to come out and measure the racket with their special meters. 970-3280


Remove the snow!


CHARLOTTESVILLE– Many people don't realize that a city ordinance requires all citizens to remove snow from the sidewalks along their property within six hours of a snowfall, with a grace period until noon if the snow falls at night or on Sunday. (During the blizzard of '96, an altercation broke out when someone dug out a spot for his car, and an interloper parked in it!)




CHARLOTTESVILLE– In the city, you're subject to a fine if you let them grow over 18 inches tall. Moreover, city residents are required to mow up to the street even if the grass in front of their house doesn't actually belong to them. Enforcer: zoning department. 970-3182




The Newcomers Club of Greater Charlottesville says it's open to all who have been residents of the area for less than three years. 980-2725, charlottesvillenewcomersclub@adelphia.net.


Before you dig...


Since undergrounding utilities is all the rage, Virginia has one sweet phone number you should call before you put that shovel in the ground to avoid death and injury. After you call "Miss Utility," honchos come out, free of charge, and spray-paint lines where underground utilities lie. 800-552-7001




Anything more serious than sparklers, spinners, and fountains is prohibited in both Charlottesville and Albemarle. Not okay: bottle rockets, roman candles, and M-80s.

Take a peek


Aerial views of the city can be seen on the city's website, charlottesville.org.




Getting electricity

Currently you are served by only one company. Depending on where you live, it's probably one of the following:

Dominion Virginia Power 888-667-3000

AEP-Virginia - 888-707-4237

Allegheny Power - 800-255-3443

Central Virginia Electric Cooperative - 800-367-2832

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative - 800-552-3904


Choosing the juice


While you still don't have any choice over which company attaches its electric wires to your house, you can pick which company produces the energy that flows through them, thanks to a new state-mandated competitive program called Virginia Energy Choice. When you sign up for electric service, most of the above utilities should be available. 877-YES-2004


Landline phones


The phone book lists several local providers, but as far as we can tell, the only one that actually provides landlines for a price that doesn't require a second job is... Sprint. To establish service, dial 811 from a Sprint landline or 800-304-7628. Businesses can buy local service from Ntelos (877-468-3567) or Adelphia Business Solutions (817-8170), in addition to Sprint's business unit (800-901-9675).


Natural gas


Efficient stuff for heating. Only available through the underground pipes of Charlottesville's City Public Service, which serves the city and nearby suburban areas. They're hungry for customers and provide three interesting services: $100 rebates for converting to gas water heaters, free underground gas lines and meters to new houses in certain areas, and one free pilot lighting of your furnace each year.

Billing: 970-3211

Pilot lighting: 970-3801


Propane and fuel oil


An alternative for folks who don't live on the natural gas grid. While fuel oil is generally just for heating, many Central Virginia households use propane for both cooking and hot water in addition to heat. Many local companies will fill your tank.


Coal and firewood


UVA, in addition to burning natural gas and fuel oil, also makes heat the old-fashioned way: with coal. But as far as we can tell, no one is selling coal retail in Charlottesville, and there are probably only a few dozen houses with those cute little coal-burning fireplaces anyway. As for firewood, every bubba and his brother seem to be selling the stuff come fall. Make sure you get what you pay for. A cord is 128 cubic feet, or 4 ft. by 4 ft. by 8 ft. (or 3 ft. by 6.5 ft. by 6.5 ft.). Prices typically range from $90-$160 per cord.


Internet access


In addition to the myriad national providers, residential customers have several firms with a Central Virginia presence to choose from:

Adelphia - 800-683-1000

Access Point Communications - 888-219-6151

Blue Ridge Internetworks 817-0707

Broadband Network Services, Inc. - 817-7300

Ceva Net - 877-444-2382

IQ Networks - 951-0800

Nexet - 817-3178

Ntelos - 877-4NTELOS

Pure Internet - 866-517-0033

Sprint - 800-777-4683


Cable/Satellite/Wireless Television


Many years ago, when cable television was thought to be a natural monopoly, the city struck a deal making Adelphia the sole provider of cable television in the city. Technically, it's not the exclusive provider; it just works out that way. The company provides everything from local broadcast channels to all the premium goods including HBO and Cinemax. 800-835-4949

Dish Network Satellite service starts at $29.99/month for 60 channels. 800-333-3474. Circuit City offers DirecTV, which provides over 130 channels for about $39.99/month. 973-0601




CHARLOTTESVILLE- Before they open the flow, they'll demand a letter of credit or ask you to pay a deposit. But that's not what scares some customers. Ever since the drought of 2002, rates have soared– with the summer water (May-September) price currently $41.28 per 1000 cubic feet and winter $31.76 per 1000c.f. The sewage rate is $29.27/1000c.f. There's an additional $8/month service charge. Charlottesville Public Service. 970-3211

ALBEMARLE- Albemarle has a scaled fee system which is consistent all year. Up to 3000 gallons of water is $3.06 per 1000 gallons. From 3000-6000 is $3.67 per 1000g. Above 6000 gallons, your rate nearly doubles to $6.56 per 1000g. The sewer rate is $3.74/1,000 gallons– plus $4.38/month service charge. (Note that Charlottesville and Albemarle calculate their rates differently. Charlottesville uses the cubic foot, which equals 7.48 gallons.) Albemarle County Service Authority. 977-4511


If you're not on the water grid


Many communities in Albemarle County must use well water or trucked-in water because they are not hooked up to the water system by choice or because they're in rural areas. Many suburban houses buy their water from the Authority and then use an in-ground septic system to process wastewater. These things are regulated by the local Health Department at 1138 Rose Hill Drive, which can even show you a little sketch of where your property's septic field is located. 972-6259


Where's my water from?


If you're on either the city or county water system, your water is stored at one of these three reservoirs: the South Fork Rivanna, Ragged Mountain, or Sugar Hollow. The quasi-public body that chlorinates and sells the water to Charlottesville and Albemarle is the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority. Confused? Yep, us too.


Ye olde droughte


Emergency water restrictions took effect during the infamous summer and fall of 2002. No washing of cars, sidewalks, plants, etc. As of July 1, 2004, all automatic irrigation systems on the public water supply must contain a rain sensor. If we get another such emergency and you want to report someone breaking the rules, call 970-3040.




CHARLOTTESVILLE- Curbside recycling is free: newspaper, aluminum cans, tin cans, and glass bottles that are brown, green, or clear are picked up at curbside on the day your trash is collected. No plastic bottles, though. City guidelines are available from the City Public Service, 970-3830.

ALBEMARLE- To the eyes of many greenies, Albemarle County stepped back into the dark ages on July 1, 2003, when– aware that there's insufficient market for second-hand glass and plastic– it dropped those two categories as well as cans from its curbside program. Now the county demands that private haulers (who actually do the work) pick up only newspapers and magazines. Find out more from the County Engineering Department. 296-5861.

Now your best county bet is the McIntire Recycling Center (906-0763), which accepts almost all major categories including cardboard, books, spray cans, #1 and #2 plastic, and colored glass. M-F 7:30am-5:20pm, Sat 8am-5:20pm, Sun 12:30-5:20pm. And if you've got a lot of metal, you might get some real money down at Coiner's Scrap Iron & Metal in the Woolen Mills neighborhood. 296-6465


Burning stuff


ALBEMARLE– You're allowed to burn stuff in the county! But there are some rules. Moreover, between February 15 and April 30, open burning may take place only between the hours of 4pm and midnight, unless you're burning a distance of 300 feet or more from woodlands or other material capable of spreading fire to woodlands. Other regulations also apply. Fire Marshall: Bob Lowery. Albemarle Department of Fire & Rescue: 296-5833

CHARLOTTESVILLE– No outdoor burning in the city. Fire Marshall: Ben Powell Charlottesville Fire Department: 970-3240


Trash hauling


ALBEMARLE- Many people haul their own trash to the landfill or bury it on their property, but most suburbanites hire one of the many private haulers who advertise their services in the Yellow Pages. Typically, they charge $10-20 a month.


CHARLOTTESVILLE- The city gets this done via a private firm that swings by your house once a week, but you have to pay (to cover landfill fees and encourage recycling) via the dreaded sticker system. Here's how it works. You have to buy stickers, which you affix to your trashcan or bag. You can pay weekly by buying 32-gallon stickers for $2.10 each or 13-gallon stickers for $1.05. Or spring for the annual sticker ($94.50) and paste it on the side of your trash can. For more information, call 970-3146.

$25 large item disposal- Until 2004, Charlottesville residents got a big bonus: up to two annual visits from a huge truck with a giant claw that will take away jumbo trash like refrigerators, tree limbs, and sofas. They still pick up, but now you have to pay. To schedule, call 970-3321.

Free leaf pickup- Another bonus of living in the city. Free collection begins each November with pickup of bagged leaves (the city even provides free bags) and vacuuming of raked-to-the-curb leaves. 970-3830


The landfill


It operates under the goofy name Materials Utilization Center, but everyone still calls it "The Ivy Landfill." Located on Dick Woods Road (Route 637) in Ivy, it no longer actually puts trash in the ground. Instead, it accepts your garbage for $66/ton (less for vegetation and more for shredded documents) and ships it far away. Hours: 7:30am - 4pm. It accepts the following items for free: paint, motor oil, antifreeze, batteries (including household batteries). The landfill is also the site of the Encore Shop, which lets people claim "trash" as treasures. 977-2976


Reporting dead animals


CHARLOTTESVILLE- Call City Public Service (970-3830) or police dispatch (977-9041) for pickup.

ALBEMARLE- Call VDOT (293-0011) or police dispatch (977-9041) for pickup.


Reporting Pollution


Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) urges you to report suspected pollution incidents during business hours by calling Larry Carpenter at DEQ's regional office at 540-574-7800– or the Department of Emergency Management at 800-468-8892 on nights, holidays, and weekends.


Jury Duty


In Virginia, potential jurors are selected randomly by jury commissioners using lists designated by the court, such as the voter registration list and the driver's license list. You are reimbursed $30 for each day you serve.




This town contains not only an old-fashioned rural Co-op, but also a major national catalogue retailer, and more garden centers than you can shake a stick at. Plus, the City of Charlottesville offers 30'x30' plots of land that can be rented for just $30 a year ($50 to non-residents) in Azalea Park and at the old Fairgrounds near the old Bodo's. 970-3260


Every April, some of the most sumptuous gardens and grounds are open to the gawkers of Historic Garden Week. 804-644-7776


Farmer wannabes should call the Virginia Cooperative Extension to find out what the extension agents think you can grow and how to do it. 984-0727


–>>See our Books section for libraries.




Charlottesville Police - Information: 970-3280. Chief: Timothy Longo

Albemarle Police - Information: 296-5807. Chief: John Miller

UVA Police- Information: 924-7166. Chief: Paul E. Norris Jr.

All emergency calls- for all three jurisdictions: 911


All non-emergency dispatch calls- for all three jurisdictions: 977-9041


Courts–>>See our Government section


Consumer tips–>>See our Consumer section




The most fun time locally is the winter when everyone flips out when it snows. Remember the February 2003 snow? The National Weather Service claims it was only seven inches, but the granular nature of what fell from the sky was so dense that most area schools were closed for two days after the bulk of the snow had fallen. (Monday, February 16, 2003, Presidents Day, was already a holiday.)


Record rain in 2003


The incredible 2003 deluges ironically followed the incredible summer '02 drought– which broke due, some say, to the alleged County Fair Curse. (Hoping to break the curse, the fair was moved in 2005 from September to the first week in August.) Old record of # of rainy days: 146 days in 1975. But 2003's tally of 166 was a new high. The 1937 precipitation record– 72 inches– also fell under 2003's record 74.55 inches. 2004 marked a return to average, and thus far 2005's rainfall is also within normal boundaries.




It's not proven, but our state climatologist thinks this area has the makings of a minor tornado belt.


Sources: Virginia State Climatology Office as well as the National Weather Service which has stations in Blacksburg, Sterling, and Wakefield which compile data on this area.