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What was your favorite hideout on Grounds?

Black-and-white photo of a student in a study carrel
Corks & Curls, 1972

Our most-often cited hideout was the Alderman Stacks. Many described it as wonderfully secluded. As Katherine Pajewski (Col ’19, Batten ’20) put it: “Just choose a floor and find a cubby, and no one will ever find you.” John Iekel (Col ’85) recalled: “I loved finding a secluded carrel deep in the Stacks … being alone there and sometimes finding a book that had not been checked out for decades. Once I found one not opened since 1928, and I so enjoyed the thought that I was the first person since thean to take it off the shelf. It felt like a connection with that long-ago student from more than 50 years before. I also loved the chairs near the entrance to Clemons Library. Every day, my best friend at the time would sit in one and wait for me to come from my late afternoon job on the transit service crew so we could go have burgers at Pavilion XI and then play video games. He died in a car crash in the spring of our second year; sometimes after that, I’d go to those chairs and just sit for a while.”

A magnificent April 2022 view from the Alderman Library rooftop. Sanjay Suchak

“Navigating an unmarked trail through the Stacks of Alderman Library to find the hidden stairs to the rooftop. The view of Grounds from that vantage point magically cleared my head and filled my lungs. I also loved introducing this special spot to dear friends and looking at their eyes widen when we stepped out of the stairwell. Skepticism morphed into wonder.”—Tara Casey (Col ’94)

“Behind the Rotunda clock, occasionally sticking my head out the door of the clock.”
—Gary Shook (Col ’82)

Fayerweather Hall
Dan Addison

“Fayerweather Hall art studio, late every night.”
—Robert Hadaway (Col ’92)

The McGuffey Ash

“Underneath Treebeard’s branches! (This was the majestic old tree behind one of the pavilions...since then, chopped down.)”
—Lisa Miller (Engr ’73)

The University Cemetery
“I loved to study and read in the cemetery next to my dorm (Hancock 1982-83).”
—Hilary Bryon (Col ’86) Monica Pedynkowski

View of a snowy streetscape as seen from the roof of the Math Astronomy Building
“The roof of the old Math Astronomy Building. Astronomy class observing sessions were held there. There were four or six telescope stands, and 8-inch Meade telescopes were set out for the evening. But in the daytime it was quiet and peaceful, and there was always a breeze and a great view.”—Larissa Spiker (Col ’96) Submitted photo

“The basement of the Computer Science building. I wanted a quiet place to study, and as a female student at the University of Virginia Law School in the 1970s, it was a challenge to be left alone to study. I had loved my mathematics classes at The College of William & Mary (as an undergraduate), and being around other math and computer science fans was comforting.”—Deborah Wolin Gates (Law ’79)

French House library
Submitted photo

“Tough call between the secret French House library (right), the Econ Undergraduate Teaching Fellowships office in Monroe Hall, and the Music Library stacks.”
—Lexi Schubert (Col ’17)

“Law Library—when it was in Clark Hall—was a great place to get some quiet during exams or write a paper. The real hideout was in the stacks, accessed via a trapdoor in the floor behind the library desk. I was sent down there to get a finance book I had requested—metal stairs and catwalks and lights to turn on and off as I went.”—Branch Watkins (Com ’70)

Black-and-white photo of a student in a Clark Hall library carrel
Records of the Virginia Law Weekly

“Stacks down the ‘hidden’ staircase in Clark Hall.”
—F. Rob Ries (Col ’83)

“I handwrote my anthropology honors thesis in a tiny corner carrel at the Clark Hall library with a window view of gorgeous spring flowers but no other distractions. I remember stacks of books and paper and pens and pencils and how sunlight shifted hour after hour.”—Christine Payne (Col ’83)

“Under the marble entrance stairs of Clark Hall! Once, during some construction in the basement, a friend and fellow environmental science major discovered a hole in the wall that led under the stairs. So, being geology fans, we went spelunking with a flashlight and discovered stalactites hanging from the marble!”—Laurel Williamson (Col ’04)

Night-time exterior view of Clark Hall
Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, UVA

“The roof of Clark Hall! My sisters, Sharon McNerney Venker (Com ’78) and Sheila McNerney Leacock (Com ’78), challenged my then-girlfriend Ann Daly McNerney (Educ ’80) and me to find our way to the roof of Clark Hall as a great place for looking at the stars and perhaps a little necking! Ann and I found our way back several times during our student days. Now in our 43rd year of marriage, we smile at each other when walking or driving past Clark Hall!”—Kevin McNerney (Com ’80, Darden ’89)

Mobile home
Submitted photo

“42M Copeley Hill, my 42- by 8-foot mobile home where I lived during my last 3 years as an undergraduate student.”
—William Austin Campbell (Engr ’60, ’66)

“In the branches of the magnolia tree northeast of the Rotunda—the perfect place to read and enjoy some spring sunshine.”
—Bernice O’Brien (Col ’14, Educ ’14) Sanjay Suchak

“The steam tunnels under manholes between Clark Hall library and O-Hill dining. You can pop down one and pop back up near your first-year dorm through another, oftentimes at night. Occasionally I ran into friends headed the other direction down there! You can only get there if the manhole is already open (there’s a ladder down about 7 feet) or if there’s a person who’s feeling strong next to you. In the pic, we’re posing in front of one of many UVA artists’ murals down there.”—Hannah Semmes (Batten ’20) Chris Tyree; submitted photo

“What I used to call the ‘Merton College Garden’—the garden off East Range featuring a gray stone pinnacle from Oxford’s Merton College, which was my Oxford college when elected a Rhodes scholar from UVA in 1972.”—John M. Bowers (Grad ’73, ’78) Steve Hedberg

“The Glass Hat! During my time studying there, often at the same table, I met a number of friendly staff to whom I only had to say, ‘The usual, please,’ and an omelet was forthcoming to fortify me as I studied. Whether those omelets were mystical or not is an answer for minds greater than mine to ponder. But I do know that each succeeding semester my grades improved significantly eating those epicurean delights while studying away. Thanks to the Glass Hat, I graduated with distinction. Shortly before the Glass Hat was torn down in the name of progress, I made a pilgrimage to Grounds to pay one last homage to my revered place of study—and lift an omelet in honor of the place that turned me into the scholar that I became.”—Jason Silverman (Col ’74)

A handful of alumni from the 1970s and 1980s pointed us to The Cave, behind and under Old Cabell Hall. Gil Pearman (Col ’88) recalled: “It had a great little cafe you could zip into between classes, was cool in summer although not air-conditioned, and had decent food. A great place to chat with friends between classes. A really unique and lost hidden space on Grounds.”

Anandita Sharma (Col ’26) finds some alone time in a nook of the music library. Monica Pedynkowski

“The Music Library in Old Cabell Hall. I studied the comprehensive archive of Rolling Stone magazines located therein.”
—Rodney Hugh Follin (Col ’77, Grad ’80)

“One of the deep window seats on the fourth floor of Old Cabell. Wonderful for reading, and I took many naps!”
—Lindsey Eltzroth (Col ’98)

Students practice in fall 2022. Monica Pedynkowski

“Private piano-practice modules in Old Cabell Hall. It was a secret spot, and my ability to play piano was unofficially a secret too.”
—Steve Odabashian (Col ’91)

“I love the hammocks near Runk Dining Hall and Hereford.”
—Angelina Lu (Col ’24)

“In the serenity of the Chapel.”
—Suzanne Baldwin (Nurs ’75) David Skinner, 1975/Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, UVA

Newcomb Hall
Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, UVA

“Balcony outside Newcomb Hall with one round table. The perfect spot for quiet study outside in the shade.”
—Jason Turner (Col ’06, Educ ’08)

Above, Shaley Villatoro-Perez (Col ’26) takes advantage of the spot.

Monica Pedynkowski

“In Newcomb Hall in the late 1960s, there were small rooms with record players and headphones and a library of quality LPs. Excellent for studying or just blissing out for a while.”
—Andrew Sussman (Col ’71)

“The window wells in the old Newcomb Hall building were like being in a castle and deep enough to sit and read in.”
—Nan Warren (Col ’76)

“The window seat in the arched window on the third floor of Newcomb Hall. I was a co-chair for University Union, and this spot was at the end of the hall (closest to Clemons) and right at the entrance to the stairway to the Cavalier Daily (in the 1980s). I spent so much time there that, if someone was trying to find me, it was often the first place they looked.”—Debra Haas (Col ’85)

“I was there long ago, when Observatory Mountain was completely in woods. During my first and second year, I took my dog friends to walk and run in those woods. There was a huge tree there I would climb, and from the top I could see over the entire University Grounds below.”—Richard Fowler (Col ’56, Educ ’60)

“I thoroughly enjoyed studying in the conference room at Chem library. It was quiet, little used, and had enough space to spread out and work on papers.”
—Joshua King (Engr ’06)

“Chilling on the train tracks with friends underneath the Copeley Road bridge that leads to the baseball and soccer fields.”
—Nick Farias (Engr ’16)

For our next issue:

What’s the most spectacularly unwise (or foolish) thing you did at UVA? Tell us at, and we’ll select some to run in the Spring issue.