Well known as photographer of student life, Ed “Flash” Roseberry (Com ’49) provided a low-tech version of Facebook for the University more than a half century ago. After big weekends, Roseberry would post pictures of the proceedings in the windows of Eljo’s on the Corner, where students would crowd around to see photographs of their hijinks from the past several days. But Roseberry’s camera recorded much more than just life at UVA.
For decades, Roseberry was a ubiquitous presence around Charlottesville, documenting the people and the changing landscape of a growing city. From favorite watering holes to the opening of Barracks Road, Roseberry and his camera saw it all.
What follows are just a few of the thousands of photographs he took of Charlottesville, along with recent commentary from Roseberry, now 88.
Carroll’s Tea Room
“Carroll’s Tea Room was a very popular student drinking spot, particularly interesting on big dance weekends,” says Ed Roseberry. “This was taken during Easter’s Weekend of 1956. It’s where Bank of America is located today at Barracks Road Shopping Center. These students are eagerly awaiting the opening of the front door to get a sip of that favorite drink, beer.”
The Corner, 1948
“This is a time exposure that I took from the top of the medical school,” says Roseberry. “In the upper right side, you can see cars passing up 14th St. On the left, you can see cars turning into the alley, which had a billiard hall and some other stores in the back.”
University Theater, 1959
“The theater stood just west of where the Red Roof Inn [on Main St.] is located now. Bradley Payton Pontiac/Cadillac is just past the theater,” Roseberry says. “On the next street, where the light looks like a bright shining star, is the University Post Office.”
A History Through Pictures with “Flash”
Historian Coy Barefoot interviews photographer and alumnus Ed Roseberry.
These buildings are located across from University Hall and John Paul Jones Arena. The Gridiron Restaurant is currently the Kabob Palace and the Executive Plaza Motel is now an Econo Lodge. “If you look at the far left of the photograph, you can see the barely used Route 29 North,” says Roseberry.
This Holiday Inn still exists on 29 North, next to the Aberdeen Barn and across the road from Best Buy. “This was an ad for Charlottesville Oil Company, which was a big supporter of University of Virginia athletic teams,” says Roseberry.
Lewis and Clark Monument
Monument at the intersection of West Main St. and East Main St., then known as Vinegar Hill. “The buildings at the right of the picture occupy what is now McIntire Rd., which runs through the old Vinegar Hill area,” Roseberry says.
200th Anniversary of Charlottesville
“This publicity photo was taken in my driveway in March of 1962, and that’s my Volkswagen Beetle” says Roseberry. “But I don’t remember the young woman’s name.”
Located near the corner of 7th St. and Market St., this temporary structure was built during the 200th anniversary of Charlottesville in 1962.
On the site of the demolished Vinegar Hill, looking East down Charlottesville’s Main St. “The land I was standing on when I took this picture is now occupied by the Omni Hotel,” Roseberry says.
Night on Main Street
The stores to left of the Paramount Theater burned in 1973. Central Place on the Downtown Mall now occupies the spot where the buildings burned.
Corner Stores along University Avenue in the 1950s. “For a while, I displayed my photographs of big weekends at the University of Virginia in the front windows of Eljo’s,” Roseberry says.
“This is the Staples Barbershop as it looked when it first opened in Barracks Road Shopping Center, in the fall of 1959,” Roseberry says. “Ken Staples is standing behind his chair, second from the left, and he still is there in the barbershop.”
Barracks Road, 1950s
“The building that looks like a small University Hall was a branch of the National Bank and Trust Company at that time and was built at the Barracks Road Shopping Center,” says Roseberry. “In the distance you can see what later would become Woolco and Roses department stores. To the left of the little bank building would be what is now McDonald’s.”
Barracks Road Opening Night
Skylights in operation during opening night of Barracks Road Shopping Center on October 30, 1959—the same night of the Piedmont Airlines crash on Bucks Elbow Mountain near Crozet. “The only surviving passenger on the plane, Phil Bradley, saw those searchlights just before the plane passed over and shortly thereafter hit Bucks Elbow Mountain,” says Roseberry. The Kroger location is currently an Old Navy and Roses is now Harris Teeter.
Gas Station in Front of Barracks Road
This gas station was recently torn down to make way for more shops at Barracks Road. Roseberry believes this is Mr. Wright, the station’s owner.
“This shows when Main St. was a one-way street going west in the late 1950s, and Water St. was on one-way street going east,” says Roseberry. “Originally, traffic went in both directions on Main Street. The vertical Paramount marquee no longer exists and they don’t know what happened to it. The lower marquee was never torn down and still exists in its original form.”
East End of Main St., 1950
“I took this one from the top of Charlottesville Tire Service, which is now where City Hall is located,” says Roseberry. “On the far left is Hoff Motor Company, which burned almost completely in 1951.”
Harvest Festival Parade
“This is a scene on West Main Street, just before you start up Vinegar Hill,” says Roseberry. “People are gathered together to welcome the Apple Harvest Festival parade, which went on from 1950–58. This picture was taken in approximately 1952.”
Biff-Burgers, 15 Cents
The Biff-Burger was located on Emmet Street near Angus Road. “That didn’t last very long because in those days it was too far out,” says Roseberry. “Now it would be in the heart of things.”
Parade at Old Belmont Bridge
“This is roughly 1951 and shows a group of ROTC cadets from the University of Virginia marching in unison in the Apple Harvest Festival parade,” Roseberry says. “In the background is the then-existing Belmont Bridge, which was later replaced and the new bridge still stands today. On the far right is the old C&O Railway Station. A coal company is on the left of the photograph and the old railroad yards were located immediately behind the buildings on the left side.”
Inside the Gaslight, 1962
The Gaslight was a popular restaurant for students and locals, located in the old Gleason Hotel, later called the Hotel Albemarle.
Downtown for the Holidays
“This is Christmastime, 1959, and shows downtown Charlottesville when it was still a drive-through street,” says Roseberry. “I actually used this photo on my Christmas card that year.”
“Main Street was closed down permanently on this day in 1975,” say Roseberry. “There’s a military helicopter on the street and I later got a ride in that helicopter to take aerial photographs of the street and surrounding area.”
Central Place on the newly converted pedestrian mall in the mid 1970s.