Although Charlottesville may have that small-town feel, the city still holds an important place in our nation’s history. From Civil War battlefields to the homes of former U.S. presidents, history surrounds us. If you’re interested in American history, there are several places around Charlottesville you can visit!
The Paramount Theater
Instantly recognizable by the illuminated marquee, The Paramount Theater first opened Thanksgiving Eve in 1931. The theater became a landmark shortly after the grand opening due to its popularity. Despite facing difficult times during the stock market crash of 1929, the Paramount flourished. The theater hosted films, shows, and concerts for forty years until the establishment closed in 1974.
Nearly two decades later, the theater was purchased by non-profit Paramount Theater, Inc. who worked to restore it. In 2004, The Paramount Theater made its comeback and has remained an important piece of Charlottesville’s history.
Monticello & Michie Tavern
You can’t talk about Charlottesville history without the mention of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson helped shape the architectural landscape and make Charlottesville the town it is today. You can see his handiwork all over town including the University of Virginia, the Rotunda, and Michie Tavern. Monticello, the former home of Jefferson, brings visitors from near and far alike. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc. helps reinforce the importance of American history throughout the community. All while preserving the former president’s 5,000-acre plantation.
If you decide to visit Monticello, you’ll have to stop by Michie Tavern for a Southern, 18th-century meal. Here you can enjoy fried chicken, flaky biscuits, and black-eyed peas served in aluminum dishware. And the food is served by friendly folks dressed in period attire. For a tasty meal and a healthy dose of history, visit Michie Tavern.
James Madison’s Montpelier
Thomas Jefferson isn’t the only former president who called Central Virginia home. James Madison’s former residence, Montpelier, is located a short drive away in Orange County. As former president and a Founding Father, James Madison played an important role in forming our Constitution. Learn more about his professional and family life by touring the grounds. With over 2,650 acres, there’s plenty to explore!
In addition to the former homes of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, James Monroe also had a residence near Charlottesville. Serving as our nation’s fifth president, Monroe lived at Highland with his family from 1799-1823. You can explore the house and grounds as well as go hiking on one of the many trails on the property.
If you’re interested in learning more about American history around Charlottesville, you don’t have to go very far! There are plenty of places you can visit to learn more about the historical significance of the beautiful place we call home. There are also a few strange things about Charlottesville that might surprise you!
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