Tag Archives: University of Virginia

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

18 Apr
by Emma Earnst

On this day in 1946, Rip Payne took in a ball game at Lambeth Field.  The stadium, constructed in 1911 by Robert E. Lee Taylor, was

intended to be the ‘finest athletic stadium in the South and one that compares very favorably with the stadiums at Syracuse and Harvard.’

Named in honor of Dr. William A. Lambeth, the director of athletics at the time, it served as the football stadium until 1931, when Scott Stadium was constructed.  The field continued to serve other sports, including baseball, for many years hence.  In addition to being the premier athletic field of its day, Lambeth also became well-known for hosting, perhaps, one of the first flights to which Charlottesville bore witness (in 1912).

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In researching this entry, I came across the following discussion on cvillenews.com regarding Charlottesville businesses (including Keller & George, whose sponsorship is advocated in Payne’s photos), the city/county border, and blogging ethics.  Which has still left me to wonder… what is the oldest Cville business?
In other news, George Reed, who serves as the managing director of Monticello Media (which, consequently, owns WCHV, the radio group picture above) recently wrote an article discussing the Keller Radio Talent Institute at Appalachian State University.  App State, in turn, is the home to History Matters, a historical publication in which my undergraduate thesis was published. Whoa… that’s a lot of coincidences for one day.

Today in Rip Payne

13 Apr
by Emma Earnst

Today, as you may be aware, is Thomas Jefferson’s birthday.  As the crowds gather at Monticello today to celebrate the omnipresent Charlottesvillian’s would-be 269th birthday, I’ll take you back 66 years to 1946, when local civic organizations and Jeffersonian-minded individuals gathered to celebrate his 203rd birthday.

In the present, the Tom Tom Founders Festival will also be opening today, with a free gala.  The apparently SXSW-inspired festival will be hosting a number of talks and events throughout the month, geared toward innovation, music, and the arts.

So, whether you choose to celebrate in the here and now or the then and there, you are just stuck with some Jefferson today.  So enjoy it!

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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

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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The Case of an Unknown Soldier

20 Jan

Have you ever heard the expression, “One of these things is not like the others”?  Well, if you ever watched Sesame Street, I hope you know what I’m talking about.

In the early 1970s, a longtime local resident donated a large collection of the papers of her grandparents’ families to the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society.  Along with these papers, of the Wilson and Minor families, was a unique object that is believed to have descended from the estate of Mary Venable Minor (b.1861).

View showing the front side of the hands. The stick measures just under 10" in length.

The small wooden carving is quite the interesting piece.  It was created sometime between 1861 and 1865, reputedly by a Confederate prisoner.  Measuring just under 10” long with a diameter of under an inch, one can only imagine it must have taken time and patience.  The two hands are not just clasped, they are grasped in the pose of shaking hands.  Considering that this was supposedly carved by a Confederate prisoner, what do you suppose he was trying to represent?  A dream of compromise between the Union and Confederacy?  A memory of a friend or loved one?  Unfortunately, so much has been lost that could have told a valuable story here.

A closeup showing the detail of the front-side carving. The stick measures 6/8" in diameter.

Mary Venable Minor, reputedly the first known owner, was clearly not the manufacturer.  Minor was the daughter of Colonel Charles S. Venable, a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Virginia.  According to Anna Barringer in the Magazine of Albemarle County History (Volume 27/28),

He had heavy grey hair, a resplendent beard, and a big head set on heavy shoulders which gave him a massive, impressive look.  A brilliant mathematician, he taught before the war, had served on General Lee’s staff, and after Appomattox taught at the University of South Carolina before coming to the University of Virginia…

The Southall-Venable House, owned by Colonel Charles S. Venable and his family, sat in the lot where Lee Park is now situated. The house was torn down in the early 1900s to make way for McIntire's park. Southall-Venable House, Holsinger Studio Collection, 1889 - 1939, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

Though much is known regarding Venable’s life and robust physical appearance, less is known about his daughter.  We do know that she married Dr. Charles Minor of Asheville, North Carolina, a man four years her younger, in December 1890.  The couple resided in Charles’ home state, and had one child, Mary Venable Minor Ball, who also stayed in the Carolinas.  The fact that the object would end up back in Charlottesville after Mary, Sr.’s death may have indicated its connection to a family member still residing in Charlottesville.  But who?  Mary’s father, the Confederate Colonel, was never imprisoned, dismissing the obvious connection.  The vast majority of the other members of the Minor and Venable families served in the war at some point, making conjecture as to a single individual seemingly impossible.

Nonetheless, this small “odd man out” piece does offer us a glimpse into the past, both of a longstanding Charlottesville family and an unknown soldier with a story to tell.

A closeup of the back-side carving detail.

Another Charlottesville Wedding

9 Sep

Both sadly for you and happily for me, I’m out of the office on Friday to attend my college roommate’s wedding.  Meaning, no funtastic Friday blog for you, but I get to have a great day celebrating my good friend and her husband-to-be.  In light of my wedding excursion, I’m offering you a very short blog with a lot of fun images to explore.

These images are part of our Russell “Rip” Payne Collection.  Rip Payne was a photographer in the Charlottesville from the 1940s to 1970s, and his enormously large collection of images was generously donated to the Society several years back.  We are still in the process of accessioning images, with the help of tireless volunteers like Anna (the best sister in the world!):

Anyways, at various points in his career, Rip Payne focused on different scenes like crime scene photography, school yearbook photos, family reunions, civic events, and WEDDINGS.  So, without further adieu, please enjoy this glimpse into the Charlottesville wedding of yesteryear…

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