Charlottesville Breaking News
An upcoming estate auction recalls one of the long-gone department stores where Charlottesvillians shopped for most of the 20th century. Slated for May 21, the sale features art and antiques from the estate of Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Williams, whose namesake store operated from 1935 to 1981 on East Main Street.
"In the first two thirds of the 20th century, if you thought about about going to a department store in Charlottesville, you went to C. H. Williams," says longtime city resident Rey Berry, who notes that the store preceded such other mid-century notables as Leggett, now operating as Belk, and the now-defunct Miller & Rhoads.
Mr. Williams, a native of Greene County, was sent to Charlottesville in 1935 to manage the Pugh Company store at 212 East Main Street. A few months later, he bought the store.
For over 40 years, C.H. Williams Co. was a Charlottesville destination for fine clothing and household goods. An advertisement from a 1944 edition of the Daily Progress touts 36-inch cotton lace for $1.39 a yard and pure linen selling for $2.19. According to another newspaper clipping on file with the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society, the company employed 60 people in 1963 with an annual payroll of $175,000.
In 1981, however, after the death of the Williams' son, Harvey, who served as president, the business closed, and the building was sold. The structure became a Smith's of Bermuda shop in 198...