“Charlottesville Slum Has Rural Atmosphere”


This article from the June 19, 1966, issue of the Richmond Times-Dispatch describes reaction to urban renewal efforts in the majority-Black Garrett Street area of Charlottesville. The Charlottesville Housing and Redevelopment Authority proposed to destroy the neighborhood’s existing homes and relocate residents to a new public housing complex. Although residents voted against this proposed relocation site, the city eventually razed Garrett Street in 1973.


Times Dispatch News Bureau
CHARLOTTESVILLE – Just behind the warehouses and two blocks south of Main Street in downtown Charlottesville lies a 40-acre tract known as the Garrett Street section. It is home to 170 families, most of them Negroes.

Rows of neglected stucco houses and dilapidated clap-board dwellings groan with the weight of too many families and too many children.

Large shade trees shield the houses and yards from the glare of the sun, and indolent chickens amble along the roads searching for scraps of food. A stream winds carelessly from a wooded area under a bridge.

Rural Atmosphere

Though the streets are dusty and the stream is littered with beer cans and wine bottles, the area has a disarming rural atmosphere that belies its near-ness to the city.

It is this area which the Charlottesville Housing and Redevelopment Authority has tapped for its second urban renewal project. The proposed plan would create a 188-unit housing complex similar to the Vinegar Hill-West Haven project, which was completed in the summer of 1964.

Many persons in the area have expressed a strong desire to make the move, but there are also those who are apathetic and others who feel it necessary to qualify their wishes to move.

The Rev. Paul Williams, whose house also serves as the Church of the Living God, said that he was against the move but would not discourage his neighbors from supporting the program. If the Garrett Street section were town down he would not move into the new project but seek a house in the country, he said.

Opposed to the Proposal

Mr. Williams has lived in the area most of his life and likes the rural atmosphere. He also intimated that receiving aid in


the form of low-income housing was against his way of thinking.

Mrs. Mary Jones, a woman in her mid-30s, is the sole provider for her grandmother and two children. An alert, articulate woman, Mrs. Jones is a practical nurse at the University of Virginia Hospital where she says she frequently works 16-hour days to provide for the needs of her family.

When she speaks of her two children, Brenda, 12, and Gregory, 9, her voice fills with warmth and pride. The health, education and well-being of the children appear to be the primary force in her life. It was in regard to them that Mrs. Jones said she voted against the referendum held to decide on a proposed site for the new project.

Defeated In Vote

The proposed site, which was defeated in a referendum, lies about three-quarters of a mile from Garrett Street. As a result of the defeat, a new study has been undertaken to find a favorable location. If the new site is accepted by City Council, another referendum must be held before the project can be given approval.

Moving the entire community to a new site, albeit an attractive one, would not greatly change the standards of the people, she felt. Some system which would reward persons who are willing to work for a better life was the way Mrs. Jones qualified her desire to approve the project.

Many of the residents of the Garrett Street area are elderly persons who have lived there all or most of their lives. These people, for the most part, are illiterate and the proposed plan either hasn’t reached their ears or doesn’t interest them.

APA Citation:
Abbe, James. “Charlottesville Slum Has Rural Atmosphere”. (2024, June 10). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
Abbe, James. "“Charlottesville Slum Has Rural Atmosphere”" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (10 Jun. 2024). Web. 21 Jun. 2024
Last updated: 2024, June 10
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