Wednesday, July 2, 2008


In May and June of 2008 we received considerable correspondence regarding the re-enactment of the Timberlake-Branham Farm's 1993 historic overlay.

May 28, 2008

Dear Members of the City Council, the Planning Commission, and the B.A.R.,

With all due respect, I am writing on behalf of the citizens of Charlottesville to request your attention to the preservation of the Woolen Mills neighborhood.

I am a former resident of Charlottesville who unfortunately had to relocate because of his work. I look forward to retiring there someday.

What appeals to me the most is that Charlottesville has, so far, successfully retained its links to the past while carefully navigating the path to the future.

I regularly follow what is going on in the communities I love by reading newspapers and commentary online. In the past year or two, I have become very interested in the activities around the Woolen Mills neighborhood. Of course, I have friends there and have visited many times, so I am familiar with the issues and the neighborhood in question. I am not one who protests change for the sake of being a reactionary, but occasionally I choose to get involved when I see what appears to be a ?crack in the dam?.

On the surface, the fissure seems a small one, but even small cracks become bigger ones, and that is what concerns me.

As we know, there are two issues involved here. One is about diminishing the integrity of the Timberlake-Branham Farm and the other is about how this happened. In respect to the latter, an error was made which can be easily corrected, no doubt. Only an inattentive or unconcerned person would let the mistake remain.

The long-term issue is this: places of historical importance need protection. The property of interest and the entire neighborhood stand as an example of one of the great things about America - that working families can build a beautiful, family-friendly neighborhood that can last as an enduring testament to an industrious and sociable community. It says that this community spirit is important and can be maintained by subsequent generations who, with the promise that the neighborhood will last, will be the real stewards and caretakers who protect and nourish it for the generations that follow. Woolen Mills is blessed with that rare combination of people who grew up there and newer residents who chose it as a home because of what it is. Inevitably, there are many who care about it enough to want to preserve its special character.

So on June 2nd, please seal up the crack in the dam. Return the Timberlake-Branham property to its rightful protected status. Listen to what the residents have to say, and stand up for the rich history of your town. That history is Charlottesville?s greatest asset. Curiously, it can be the best path to the future.


James L. Orr
The Museum of Modern Art, New York

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July 2, 2008 10:55 AM  

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