Tag Archives: Charlottesville

Today in Rip Payne

10 Jul

by Emma Earnst


Today’s Rip Payne comes from an unknown date in July 1967, and depicts Old Fashion Day at what was a relatively new Barracks Road Shopping Center.

Bunny trail time: Something tells me our friend Rip wasn’t a fan of the July heat.  To date, the distribution of pictures per month falls heavily on spring (March to May) and fall (September to November).  Admittedly, the cool breezes and beautiful colors of those seasons seem far more attractive than the scorched earth and overheated public of summer—especially to someone whose life work is to capture beauty.  Nonetheless, I’m happy to report that summer is doing far better than winter.  In terms of number of Rip Payne photographs.  Because, as you know, that’s what really matters.

Anyways, one of the (few) reasons Rip ventured out in the heat in July 1967 (so far I only have one other photo series from this month and year) was to shoot a group of individuals who dressed up in old-fashioned garb and shopped.  Well, rather, they dressed up so that others would shop.  That’s right—for at least two years in a row, a group of Barracks Road employees put on the longest dresses and warmest wool suits they find and paraded around in the dreaded heat, all in the name of sales.  Needless to say, this event didn’t last through to the present.  Hmm, I wonder why?

P.S. Can you guess which character is my favorite?


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Answer: Duh, its the woman with awesome specs smoking a pipe.

Today in Rip Payne

9 Jul

by Emma Earnst


Today in 1955, Rip Payne spent his day as he so often did, photographing a wedding.  To be precise, this was the Duval wedding, which took place at the University Chapel.

Having spent more time in another local Gothic-style church, I find myself constantly wanting to proclaim that Rip was wrong in his identifications of the Chapel vs. Christ Episcopal Church (these are probably the two most popular wedding venues during this time, at least judging from these RP photos), and (almost!) always being wrong.  Consider the following images of the interiors of these two churches:

University Chapel

Christ Episcopal Church

Looking at Rip’s black and white negatives, I admit, at first glance I often mistake one for the other.  Luckily, the stained glass behind the altars differs greatly and provides a good identifier.

Anyhow, Rip Payne spent his day in University Chapel  (note the stained glass) on this day in 1955, celebrating yet another happy Charlottesville nuptial:

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Today in Rip Payne

30 May

by Emma Earnst


On this day in 1970, Rip Payne spent the day at Christ Episcopal Church, photographing the Rumble wedding (as he named it).  As I’m going to be married there in just two and half weeks myself, you know I couldn’t resist!

I’ll let you enjoy after a few quick observations:

  1. Seafoam green is back.  That only took like 42 years… sheesh.
  2. I am not sure I’ll ever get used to bridesmaids wearing veils.
  3. Is this not one of the most unhappy-looking brides you have ever seen?  I don’t want to judge, because I myself have a face that never cooperates in pictures.  But, here I am, judging nonetheless.  Time to go practice in the mirror, me!
  4. Awesome choice of costume change, and even better car decorating.


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Today in Rip Payne

3 May

by Emma Earnst

On this day in 1965, Rip Payne documented the dedication of the new General Electric building.  In a uniquely GE way, rather than cut a ribbon or crack open a bottle of champagne, the big wigs lined up and turned on some lights!  WINA offered some sponsorship (microphones), and the tuxedo-clad fellows then dined banquet style. Since the 1980s, GE’s Intelligent Platforms (their computer technology segment) has been headquartered out of Charlottesville (they are located wayyy up 29 North), but not the same building that these men dedicated back in ’65.

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Then, having now fully entered wedding season, Rip Payne spent this day in 1986 photographing Robin Hanger’s big day. And lets just say, there’s no doubting we’re in the 80’s here, kids.  We’re talking big hair, a bigger veil, puffy sleeves, and the tannest skin you’ve ever seen. It is fantastic. I know you will enjoy these!

By the way, Robin’s wedding, like my own upcoming nuptials will, took place in Christ Episcopal Church. But they let her put down a white runner. Hmmm…

44 days!

Today in Rip Payne

30 Apr

by Emma Earnst


On this day in 1960, Rip Payne photographed a book signing and talk in the old Barrett Reading Room at UVA (how humanities).  The Barrett Reading Room, named in honor of Clifton Waller Barrett was established in the 1960s on the second floor of Alderman Library.* According to UVA’s Board of Visitors minutes, Barrett was “an alumnus and noted bibliophile.”  What a lovely characterization!  (If only every such person got a reading room named after them.) When the Small Special Collections Library opened in the early 2000s, the Barrett Room (in name only) moved to the new building.  The original physical room began renovations to become an East Asian reading room instead.**

In addition to having a nifty little story behind these pictures, they are pretty cool all on their own.  I would just like to highlight a few fashion notes:

  1. Men were wearing super-cool black-rimmed glasses back then, too. Guess it only took 50+ years for that to come back into style.
  2. Mink was acceptable attire for book signings in the near-basement of a library.  Seems a little over-board to me, but I’ll try it out at our next signing (faux fur, of course).
  3. Can we please talk about that gorgeous polka dot dress? Or better yet, how about that Jackie-O-style jacket on the standout brunette (above)? I swoon.

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*Question: With whom does Barrett share an awesome/confusing middle name?

Answer: William Waller Hening, editor of the Statutes at Large, the collection of all Virginia laws from 1619 to his present.  Check out a big new collection of them over in the Encyclopedia Virginia’s primary resources section.  Yours truly may have had a small part in that!

Further Reading:

Susan Tyler Hitchcock, Buried treasure: UVA’s Special Collections get a new homeThe Hook, March 3, 2005.

Today in Rip Payne

27 Apr
by Emma Earnst

Throughout the 1960s, on this day, Rip Payne stayed pretty busy.

On this day in 1984, my parents also stayed pretty busy, as they were getting married. Happy Anniversary!!

They are going to kill me for this...

Just for the record, Rip Payne had nothing to do with that picture.  He did, however, have quite a lot to do with the rest of these.

First up, in 1961, Rip Payne snapped a single shot of a woman being awarded (inducted?) by the Order of Easter Star, a co-ed fraternal organization.  According to their website, the Order is a spiritual, though not religious, organization with the specific values of charity, education, fraternity, and science.  It is a suborder of Freemasonry, and requires all members to have Masonic connections. Today, the Charlottesville Eastern Star Order resides at 425 East Main Street (pictured to the left), with masonic symbols clearly marking the territory.


Then, in 1965, Rip Payne captured the marquis advertising the Paramount Theater’s showing of The Night Walker. The film was directed by William Castle and starred Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwick in her final feature film. The film, according to reviews, wasn’t all that great. But, the Paramount is truly in all its glory here.  It is set on what was still a street-scape at this time (not the paved pedestrian mall of today), and I can just picture it all lit up against the night sky with those big bright lights.  Can you tell that I have my rose-colored glasses on?

Finally, in 1968, Rip Payne documented another awards ceremony, this time at a different type of fraternal organization, Leggett’s.  Leggett’s was the precursor to the Belk we know today, and at this time resided on the “Mall” (or, more appropriately, East Main before it was the Mall) not Fashion Square Mall, where Belk now lives. I guess they didn’t get very creative with their changes.





Don’t you just love cat-eye glasses?!?!

I will leave you with this:

Rip Payne stayed busy today.  My parents had the most important day of their lives today.  The lady in the picture above knew enough to drink her coffee and drink it black today.  Don’t let the spirit die.  Be productive, and accomplish something great today!

The Case of the Missing “Norman” (or, Some Dead Horses)

24 Apr
by Emma Earnst


A local resident recently donated a collection of Daily Progress newspaper clippings to the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society.  As we sifted through them, we came across a slew of rather interesting articles, most notably one on the horses of the Belle-mont Mansion.  Digging deeper, as so often is the case, I’ve uncovered a wealth of fantastic resources and stories that would force me to write a book, if only I had the time.

Well, it would be a short book, but it would still be a book.

The article, which you will find below, grabbed our (macabre) attention with the opening line,

Virginia’s first Percheron-Norman horses sleep in the Belmont section of Charlottesville.

These horses, now referred to as simply “Percheron” (the latter name, Norman, being dropped in the 1870s), are a French breed, first exported to the United States in the 19th century as work horses.  They were often used to pull buses until horse-drawn transportation waned in the 20th century, when the horses became revered as a major draft breed for both work and show.

In 1852, Slaughter Ficklin, owner of the Belle-mont Mansion in southern Charlottesville, brought the first group of Percheron-Normans to Virginia just after the Civil War ended.  The horses, as the article states, were truly quite apt at working, taking up heavy pulling that was previously reserved for oxen.  The Ficklin farm was a stock farm, and many of the Percherons eventually made their way to other farms around the country.

In the 1870s, after a decade and a half of breeding and national distribution, the first two of Ficklin’s horses kicked it, and Ficklin gave his beloved stud horses a proper Christian burial, marking the spot with a stone.

A decade later, Ficklin died at the age of 70, and after his wife’s death, the property was subdivided into smaller lots that today make up the Belmont section of Charlottesville.  That’s another story for another time, though.

But, if you are curious, check this out to start.