The Corner

 

The Corner, 1920

The Corner's name derived from its location at the corner of the University of Virginia. This strip along University Avenue is filled with numerous restaurants, bars and shops, conveniently providing students with places to eat and socialize.

 

The Anderson Brothers Book Store

Date: 1896
Location: 1419-1417 1/2 University Avenue

 

 
Sanborn Map, 1907

Anderson Bros, 1940's

 

Local brothers Richard and John Anderson were enterprising merchants who realized the need for student housing near the University. They started out as booksellers in the late 1890s, and soon began advertising themselves as "the student's emporium," expanding their wares to include stationary, furniture, sporting goods and train tickets. Anderson's also sold hot baths, which were not available in University housing until Randall Hall was constructed in 1899.

In 1891, the brothers erected a three-story high-rise (for Charlottesville) with a metal-clad facade articulated by attached Corinthian columns on their site. This new building contained more commercial space for their store, as well as thirteen rooms on two stories that could be leased individually by students. The student rooms were accessible via a separate entrance so as not to interrupt the business.

Young University men would have lived in the rooms at double-occupancy, sharing bathrooms and perhaps a kitchen. These rooms were more spacious than ones on the Lawn: while Lawn rooms were typically 13 x 13 ½ feet (also rented at double occupancy), Anderson rooms ranged from 15 ½ x 16 feet to 13 ½ x 26 feet. Both Lawn and Anderson living spaces had an in-room sink for convenience. It is possible that a local woman would have served as a house mother, overseeing the tenants and perhaps preparing meals as in the Chancellor Building next door.

Today, these rooms are still leased, although not necessarily to students. Tenants still share one bathroom per floor, and space has been converted into a kitchen and living room area.

 

The Chancellor Building

Date: 1914
Location: 1411-1415 University Avenue

 

 

Mrs. Thurman, 1917

Chancellor Building, 1920s

Entrance Building housing the University Tea Room, 1914

 

 

Charlottesville businessman and druggist Dr. Samuel Chancellor opened a drugstore in the building next to the Anderson Bros. in 1891. After his new bride, Clarissa Lynn Rodes, passed away in 1906, Chancellor leased his house on nearby Staunton Avenue (later named Chancellor Street after the family) to a boarding house matron while keeping one room for himself.

By 1914, Chancellor joined the Corner beautification movement spurred by the completion of the Eugene Bradbury-designed Entrance Building (today known as the Corner Building) across University Avenue. He erected a mixed-use building with space for three stores on the ground floor of his building and eleven rooms on the second. In addition to Chancellor's Drugstore, the building housed popular U.Va. boxing coach Johnny La Rowe's Billard Parlor.

The Chancellor Building architecturally mimicks the Entrance Building through use of brick, an arcade and a roof balustrade. Although not a typical Greek temple-front pediment, the protruding entrance bay supported by classical brackets denotes the housing entrance.

One side of the residential floor contained a suite of rooms (three bedrooms, a bathroom and a sitting room) rented to a person in a role similar to a boarding house proprietor. In turn, he or she leased the remaining rooms to students living two to a room and sharing a bathroom. All of the rooms were 11 x 17 feet, with generously sized closets—again, larger than Lawn rooms—with the added bonus of being near the commercial restaurants and shops on the Corner.

Mrs. Lizzie Gill Thurman was the first Chancellor Building proprietress. Thurman operated the University Tea Room in the Entrance Building, advertised in College Topics as "the most artistic tea room in the South/modeled after up-to-date New York tea rooms." Tenants would have lodged in the Chancellor Building and taken their meals in the tea room.

After Chancellor died in 1922, the property remained in his family's care until the 1930s, when it was sold to the Timberlakes (a rival family in the Charlottesville drugstore trade.) Today the building houses the Qdoba Mexican Grill, the Freeman-Victorius Framing Shop and the Corner Market Convenience Store, in addition to the residential rooms known as the Chancellor Apartments. The rooms are leased on a month-to-month basis (although not usually to students); residents share bathrooms and a kitchen.