Vinegar Hill Community Remembered

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

February 13, 2006

One local organization is gearing up for an exhibit, aimed at keeping the legacy of one community alive.

"It was the main place, the center of negro life, from the 1800s until its demise in the 1960s," said organizer, Ann Carter.

Carter, co-founder of Our Legacy of Charlottesville and Albemarle County, is talking about the Vinegar Hill community. The area was demolished in 1963, according to the city of Charlottesville, because of urban renewal. Now, the group wants people to know about the neighborhood's history.

"We're doing this through photographs, we're doing it through artifacts, and we hope that people will learn a lesson as to how you survive amidst turmoil and confusion," said organizer, Evelyn Barbour.

During that time, homes, businesses, and churches in the area were leveled. Some residents say, turning what was once a vibrant community into something quite different.

"I do recall coming back for visits and seeing how eerie this place was with all of the land. Nothing but land. No movement, no people," remembered Barbour.

Organizers say they hope the exhibit will give a glance at what Vinegar Hill was like decades ago. What we see right now is very different from the way things used to be.

Over one hundred pieces will be on display. Some about Vinegar Hill, others relating to African American history in general, such as stamps and churches.

In the midst of all the history lessons during Black History Month, organizers say they just want to make sure their story does not get lost.

"We want to keep it going. We want our legacy to live on," said Carter.

The "Negro Life on the Hill" exhibit takes place on the 15th, 20th, and 23rd at the historic Jefferson School.

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