Archive | March, 2012

Today in Rip Payne

28 Mar
by Emma Earnst

On this day in 1946, Rip Payne spent the day surrounded by celebration and love.  He was camped out at UVA Chapel and Farmington Country Club, shooting the wedding reception of Sam Gnaloms and his new wife.*

Being now fully immersed in planning my own nuptials, I’d like to take a moment to be thankful that thus far no one has been murdered.  And also to remember that this right here is what its all about….Just look how happy Grandma is!  Only 80 days!!

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*Rip was a notoriously terrible speller, and just as terrible at writing words that can be read by the normal, trained eye.  “Gnaloms” is our best guess in this instance of chicken scratch.

Today in Rip Payne

27 Mar
by Emma Earnst

Today in 1960, Rip Payne attended a demonstration flight by the Albemarle Soaring Club at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport.  According to a national Soaring Club publication,

A new group known as the Albemarle Soaring Club is starting operations this spring at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport, Charlottesville, Virginia.  The Club members, about 5, bought two L-K’s in November of 1958 and spent the winter, spring, and summer rebuilding one of them… Finally, in March of 1960 a beautiful weekend came and 10 aero-tows were made.  The longest flight lasted 1 hour and 1 minute.  On this weekend, many new faces were introduced to the growing soaring movement in the U.S.A.

The Albemarle Soaring Club was especially significant, as it sharply differed from the images of air travel that were shown in the media at this time.  In October 1959, Charlottesville citizens were rocked when a Piedmont Airlines plane crashed in the area, killing all but one of its passengers.  The Soaring Club’s special weekend, just a few months after the crash, served to remind their friends that flying is still fun, and in spite of dangers, it can be a breathtaking leisure activity.

Or, they were just a bunch of crazy thrill-seekers…

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The Case of the “Not-So-Common” Comyn Hall

16 Mar

by Emma Earnst

Today’s collection object is a little obscure, but it raises an important question in the ever-evolving discussion of preservation.  This spring, the Chroma Projects Art Laboratory is hosting an open exhibition of work by local architects, musicians, and other artists with the topic of “The Future of Charlottesville” (btw, there is still time to apply if you are interested in submitting).  Preservation Piedmont, a local group of which I am a part, will be partnering to host the event, in addition to submitting an entry of our own.  As you might guess from our name, PresPied is dedicated to the preservation of local landscape and structures in the greater Charlottesville area.  For this event, we really had to reach out of our “comfort zone” and consider not only the value of preservation for the future, but the realities of it.  Of course we don’t assume that the world should have stopped in 1762, or 1865, or 1901, or even right now.  Our world will ever be changing, and we will ever be creating a new history for ourselves as Charlottesvillians.  Our purpose is to make sure that the elements of our past are not lost in that new life.

My personal view on topic is a complicated one, and perhaps more liberal than some.  I see preservation the simplest way of staying green.  And that may mean gutting a historic home for use as an office building, or preserving the integrity of building while adding an addition to make it suitable for modern living.  Buildings and landscapes are personal places, and I just think they should be cared for and preserved, not simply discarded.

My fiancé would likely start arguing with me quite adamantly at this point, so I will get to the heart of our post today.  A big discussion point is what to do with places with negative connotations.  For example, growing up in Germany, I recall the exoduses of tourists to the existing concentration camps, of which there remained quite a few. These places are overwhelmingly negative and painful by nature, but I think most would agree: they absolutely should not be removed, because that pain serves as a reminder of what must NEVER happen again.

This is obviously an extreme example, though.  What about a more local example- Comyn Hall, the house in downtown Charlottesville where Mayor J. Samuel McCue murdered his wife Fannie?  On September 4, 1904, Mrs. McCue was bludgeoned, strangled, shot, and left in a filled bathtub on the second floor of 601 Park Street.  Mayor McCue was convicted of the crime  and hanged in the courtyard of the Charlottesville jail on January 20, 1905.

Sound like the kind of place you would want to live?

Well, in April 1929, just over a quarter century after the sensational McCue murder, trial, and conviction, the Charlottesville Home for the Aged converted and moved into the house.  They changed the name of the house and their organization to “The Walker-Dickenson Home” at this time.  In 1967, they changed it again to “Comyn Hall,” as it is still referred to today.*  The retirement home also raised funds and built the addition to the side of the house in 1970.

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Comyn Hall closed its doors in the late 2000s, and in May 2009, an estate sale was held of the remaining contents of the home.  One of these contents was the bathtub from 1904- the very bathtub Fannie McCue had been found dead in.  According to a Daily Progress correspondent, the tub was going to be donated to us here at the Historical Society.  It never was, and quite frankly, I’m okay with that…

Comyn Hall has since been renovated as an apartment building, and is still accepting applications for rent.

What is your take on the preservation of places like these?

*The group apparently usurped the name Comyn Hall from a colonial mansion with that name, erected in 1846 John Cochran, who also owned the ground on which the newer Comyn Hall stands.

Today in Rip Payne

15 Mar

by Emma Earnst

On this day in 1968, Rip Payne made the drive to Highland County to shoot their biggest event of the year, the Maple Festival.  For those of you who haven’t heard of this one-of-a-kind event, the Highland County Maple Festival is an annual celebration of Virginia maple syrup (specifically, Highland County maple syrup).  Proclaimed as “Virginia’s Switzerland,”  the backwoodsy area bursts to life every March in celebration of their beloved sugar.  The festival has even been designated a “Local Legacy” by the Library of Congress (1999).  It is completely worth the drive, so if you don’t have any plans this weekend (other than hitting up the new WWI exhibit), then you should take advantage of this fantastic weather and head on over!

And yes, boys, they still do a Maple Queen contest.

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Today in (Basketball with) Rip Payne

14 Mar
by Emma Earnst

Fun fact:  To date, we have not accessioned any Rip Payne images coming from March 14th!

Sooo, I’m going topical on you today.

Today, we are going to travel back with Rip Payne to his coverage of the Lane High School vs. Washington-Lee High School basketball game in 1945.  Lane High School, as you may know, was the exclusively white school in Charlottesville (J.P. Burley being the African American high school), until court-ordered integration in 1959.  The school eventually became too small to accommodate a growing student body, and in 1974, was replaced by Charlottesville High School.  In 1981, the building became the home for the Albemarle County Offices, and it has retained since retained that purpose.

Lane High School, from what I can gather, was not particularly well-known for their basketball team.  This undated Rip Payne photo may shed some light on the situation:

Lane High School Rockhill Academy Basketball Team, undated (see comments section, below)

Now, to his credit, I would not want to enter a brawl with number 44… or the coach, for that matter.  And I’m sure with my skills, they would all beat me in a game of Horse (DAWG?!?).  Nonetheless, the day Rip Payne showed up in 1945 (judging by clothing, much earlier than this team photo), things weren’t looking much better.  There appears to be a fair amount of slapping and body flailing, and just general messiness.  I will say, that judging from these photos alone, Lane looks better than Washington-Lee…  Check it out for yourself!

Today in (Basketball with) Rip Payne

13 Mar

In the spirit of March Madness, I am throwing a wrench in our “Today in Rip Payne” series, and shifting ever-so-slightly to “Basketball with Rip Payne.”  Each post will feature a great local basketball shot (photo or athletic move–which kind of shot? I don’t know! Maybe both!?!) from Rip Payne’s career.

Today’s images are from both this date and yester-date (March 12-13), 1971.

In the first “shot,” from March 12, Wendell Crockett, lucky #23 on the Thomas Walker High School Basketball Team, sets to take a shot during the ’71 Group A semi-finals, played at University Hall.  Fort Criswell’s Steve Jacobs (#52) and Mark Lampkins (#20) attempt to block his shot.

So, did he make it, you ask?!

Well, I’ve got no idea– I wasn’t there for Pete’s sake!  But I do know that Thomas Walker ended the game on top, with a 53-44 victory.  The following day (as in, today, 1971), the team played in the Group A Finals.  Once again, Rip was standing nearby to capture Crockett (#23) as he is about to deploy a shot.  And once again, I don’t know if he made it.  Judging by the coverage of Luray defender Bobby Brown (#52), however, I feel confident saying I doubt he made it.  Thomas Walker lost the game, and the championship, to Luray, 49-62.

Today in Rip Payne

1 Mar

by Emma Earnst

Today in 1945, Rip Payne got to hang out with a bunch of lovely nurses at a party at a house on Page Street.  Though the images are few, they are an amusing contrast of formal and pretty-close-to-downright-silly.  Don’t hate, you know you’ve done this, too!

But why don’t nurses get to wear these fun uniforms anymore?  I would totally become a nurse for these (yes, I am that shallow)…

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