The Rest of the Story
The University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson, began classes on March 7, 1825. A village called University, Virginia, comprised the area. The Corner was the village’s primary commercial and residential district.
The Corner was so named because the entrance to the school grounds formed a corner where it met the main road leading to Charlottesville. Eventually the name came to describe five city blocks of around-the-clock activity: home to bookstores, restaurants, gift shops, residences, and more.
Getting to Charlottesville for supplies involved a long, dusty or muddy walk along a boardwalk, which was often in disrepair. Because of this, the Corner had grocers, barbers, tailors, shoemakers, and druggists who supplied students with a variety of objects such as furniture, lamp oil, blank books, tobacco, boots, and hot baths.
When the C&O Railroad built the existing bridge in 1901, University Avenue was excavated to pass beneath the tracks. For many years it was known as “The Bridge of Scores” as UVa’s latest sports results were painted onto the bridge.
Two notable Corner institutions are The Virginian restaurant, the oldest eatery in the city (1923); and Mincer’s Pipe Shop (1954). The University Movie Theater (in operation from 1938-1990) was the site of the University’s first organized civil rights march in 1961.
Once lined with boarding houses, Elliewood Avenue was named in 1910 for Ellie Wood Page (1894-1986), whose mother ran a boarding house on the Corner. Elliewood Avenue residences were converted into restaurants and shops in the 1970s.
|Marker on the Corner of Elliewood and University Avenue|
A Student Rendezvous Since the Mid 1800s
In the early 1900s, “the Corner,” so named by the University crowd, was but a sparse collection of businesses at the entrance to the University Grounds-literally just a corner. In the intervening years, “the Corner” has grown into a bustling commercial district.
Many of “the Corner’s” early structures still stand along University Ave.—between 14th and Chancellor Streets—including: the C&O Railroad Bridge (1901), also known as the “Bridge of Scores;” Chancellor’s Drugstore (1914), located at 1411-1415; the Corner Building (1914) at 1412; and the Anderson Brothers Bookstore building (1891) at 1415. Two of “the Corner’s” institutions are: The Virginian Restaurant (1923 at 1521, on of the oldest eateries in the city; and Mincer’s Pipe Shop (1923) which opened at its 1527 address in 1954.
Tree lined Elliewood Ave. is the city’s liveliest dead-end street. Named in 1910 for Ellie Wood Page (1894-1986), whose mother ran a boarding house, Elliewood Ave. became a busy thoroughfare of restaurants and shops in the 1970s.
|The Corner Marker on University Avenue, across from the UVa Gates|