Joined by Alexander “Sandy” Gilliam, University history officer and long-time Charlottesville resident, we’ve taken a deeper look at some of those key buildings and their transformations through the years.
1515 University Ave.
The building now known only by its street address, 1515, was first constructed in 1896 to be a student boardinghouse run by Mrs. Todd. Gilliam remembers many of the now-commercial businesses on Elliewood Avenue and past Bodo’s on University Avenue as homes run by widowed women for rowdy young men at the pre-coeducational University.
After its life as a boarding house, the front part was renovated around the 1930s and 1515 was split down the middle to allow for two different businesses within. The left side was The Cavalier, otherwise known as the Cavalier Diner, operated by Charles Smith, who served sandwiches at his soda fountain. According to “Around the Corner: After World War I,” a book by the late Charlottesville resident Joseph Eddins, “[Smith] also operated the Cavalier Pressing Club which catered to students cleaning and pressing needs. This was in the rear part of his half of the building and had a door in the back for clothing drop-offs and pick-ups.”
The right side of the building housed Jamieson’s Book Store. The proprietor, Mr. T. Jamieson, used to work for the Anderson Brothers Book Store down the street. Eddins wrote that Jamieson loved books so much he felt he needed to own his own store.