Sunday, August 28, 2011

UVa’s Garrett Hall namesake suppressed by newspaper

August 14, 2011,

Dear Editor,

After reading the front-page article on the Garrett Hall renovation (“After 102 years, Garrett gains new life,” The Daily Progress, Aug. 13, 2011), I am left with one unanswered question. Who is Garrett Hall named for?

In modern times at the local level, the Garrett name has become controversial because of the 1970s urban renewal of the 1860 Garrett neighborhood, formerly Garrett’s 117-acre Oak Hill farm. Nowadays the area is more often called the Warehouse District or Downtown Extended. In 2002 the Garrett Square apartments were renamed Friendship Court.

In a previous era, The Daily Progress was able to talk about Alexander Garrett. In 1952 when the Garrett mansion on Garrett Street was about to be torn down, an article summarized the contributions of Alexander Garrett as well as the history of the building.

The 1952 newspaper photograph of the Garrett house strikes the same pose as the 2011 front-page photo of Garrett Hall. No doubt the 1909 architects were able to study the 1820s mansion first-hand and model Garrett Hall after the home of Alexander Garrett.

“[Alexander] Garrett was a friend and financial advisor of Thomas Jefferson and the first bursar of the University of Virginia. He was present at Monticello when Jefferson died on July 4, 1826. The following is an excerpt from a letter he wrote his wife shortly thereafter:

Mr. Jefferson is no more. He breathed his last ten minutes before one o’clock, almost without a struggle. No one here but Col. Carr and myself, both of us ignorant of shrouding, neither ever having done it ourselves or seen it done. We have done the best we could and I hope all is right. His remains will be buried tomorrow” (“Historic ‘Cold Steam Building’ Yields to Modern-Day Needs,” The Daily Progress, Apr. 16, 1952).


Blair Hawkins
Charlottesville, Virginia

Related Links from Google

“Garrett Hall Renovations to Start This Week” by Matt Kelly, Oct. 9, 2009, UVA Today. “Garrett Hall was originally known as the Commons, a central dining hall for the Grounds…The dining room moved to the newly opened Newcomb Hall in 1958 and The Commons underwent renovation to house the bursar's office. It reopened in 1959, having been renamed after Alexander Garrett, the first bursar of the University. The bursar's office moved from Garrett Hall in the early 1980s.”

“Batten School's New Home Honors the Past, Prepares for the Future” by Matt Kelly, Aug. 2, 2011, UVA Today. “The University's central dining room moved to the newly opened Newcomb Hall in 1958, and the Commons underwent renovation to house the bursar's office. It reopened in 1959, renamed after Alexander Garrett, the first bursar.”

“Please, no historical histrionics: Charlottesville's real history,” letter by Antoinette Roades, March 27, 2007, C-ville Weekly Issue 19.13. “The creation of my zone’s street scheme, together with the establishment of both Ridge Street and Fifth Street as public thoroughfares, dates to 1825 (a full half-century earlier) when Alexander Garrett (namesake for Garrett Street and UVA’s Garrett Hall) platted his Oak Hill farm.”

Previous letters too radical to print

“Global Warming: Another letter too radical to print”, Feb. 15, 2011. C-ville Weekly prints at week 3 after letter published on internet.

“Historical Society: Jefferson School 1865”, Aug. 17, 2010. Daily Progress refuses letter from board member Fred Dove of Historical Society similar to one by Blair Hawkins in 2007, which Progress refused.

“Staunton didn’t self-destruct”, Apr. 1, 2004. I sent the letter to The Hook in response to Feb. 19 cover story. But the Hook didn’t print it until I had waited more than 2 weeks, then posted it to Charlottesville Independent Media in mid-March 2004.

“Race violence in our schools?” Apr. 4, 2006. Daily Progress again.