Charlottesville-Albemarle County Courthouse Historic District
The Albemarle County Courthouse District around Court Square in downtown Charlottesville was listed on the State and National Registers in 1972. It was expanded as the Charlottesville/Albemarle County Courthouse District in 1982, and again in 1995.This district is comprised of the original fifty acre town grid and expansion areas to the west of Court Square and north along Park Street. It extends west to McIntire Road, and south to the railroad tracks. It crosses the tracks at Avon Street to include the former Brown Milling Company building.
Charlottesville was established as the county seat in 1761, and a town grid was laid out adjacent to the new courthouse. The original wooden courthouse was replaced by the rear brick wing of the existing building in 1803. The courthouse served as a community center, house of worship, and nucleus for political life during the late 18th century. By 1835 the Court Square area included two hundred mostly brick houses, four churches, three hotels, a tavern, and other businesses.
Economic activity in Charlottesville originally centered on Court Square, but Main Street emerged during the mid-19th century as the social and commercial heart of the City, much like it is today. The intersection of two railroads contributed to this prosperity, which led to warehouses and industrial buildings being constructed along the tracks, including the Water Street and South Street area.
After a century of prosperity, downtown Charlottesville witnessed a decline in business due to new suburban centers taking shape on the perimeter of the city. In the mid 20th century many of the fine residences along High and Park Streets became offices. Vinegar Hill, a predominantly African-American business and residential area was razed in 1964.
During the early 1970’s a master plan for a pedestrian mall on Main Street downtown was designed by Lawrence Halprin & Associates. Restorations of residences on North 1st Street in the 1970’s marked the beginning of renewed interest in Downtown and the Courthouse area.
The Charlottesville-Albemarle County Courthouse Historic District is also part of a local Architectural Design Control district. For more information on Charlottesville's ADC districts, click here.