Fifeville and Tonsler Neighborhoods Historic District

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The Fifeville and Tonsler Neighborhoods Historic District, located in western Charlottesville, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 18, 2009.

This historic district, which was added to the Virginia Landmarks Register on March 19, 2008, is defined to the north by the C&O railroad tracks. The southern and western boundaries, Cherry Street and Spring Street, are neighborhood streets while an entrance corridor, Ridge Street, forms the eastern boundary. [1]

The history of this 56-acre district demonstrates the complex race relations that existed throughout the country, but especially in the South. While middle class whites lived in the western portion of this district, professional and working class African-Americans constructed homes in the eastern section. The boundary line is considered to be 7 1/2 street.

The Fife family owned Oak Lawn during the subdivision of the land and creation of the neighborhoods, and their name became associated with the area now known as Fifeville.

Meanwhile, the Tonsler neighborhood is named for Benjamin Tonsler, the revered principal of the Jefferson School; the African-American school that was sponsored by the Freedmen’s Bureau during Reconstruction and has continued to be a community focal point throughout Charlottesville’s history.[2]

There are 267 contributing structures and 71 noncontributing structures. Five of the contributing structures were previously listed on the National Register. [1] At the time of the nomination, it was remarked that there were few modern intrusions into the neighborhood.

The main east-west streets in the western Fifeville portion are Grove, Estes, King and Nalle streets. These are arranged in a fairly straight-forward grid pattern. In contrast, the lots to the east in Tonsler were developed irregularly which means inconsistent sizes and narrow streets. Oak, Dice and Delevan are the east-west streets. [1]

Many of the people who provided the market for construction of these structures in the late 19th century and early 20th century were tradespeople who worked on the railroad. The nomination form for the historic district explains that this is why many of the buildings are relatively simple one and that basic designs were copied. [1] Construction slowed in the early 20th century as the neighborhood approached build-out.

There are few commercial buildings in the district. A neighborhood grocery story was built in the 900 block of Nalle Street in 1915. This was later converted into a duplex. Another is the Korner Restaurant building at 415 Roosevelt Brown Boulevard.

Prominent builders

Notable structures


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Web. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form - Fifeville and Tonsler Neighborhoods Historic District, Maral S. Kalbian, Architectural Historian; Margaret T. Peters, Historian, October 8, 2008, retrieved December 9, 2018.
  2. Web. Fifeville and Tonsler Neighborhoods Historic District, retrieved 29 Dec. 2010.