Old Downtown Crozet Goes on Display at Crozet Library

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This 1950 photograph of downtown Crozet, taken by Hubert Gentry, was installed in the Crozet Library on February 22.

Crozet historian Phil James unveiled a large-scale reproduction of a 1950 photograph of downtown Crozet taken by Hubert Gentry, who was a junior at Crozet High School, now The Field School, at the time. Gentry, who now owns a photography studio in Harrisonburg, had intended to be present at Crozet Library February 22 for the installation but was prevented by a snowstorm.

The 6-foot-by-8 foot photo, whose reproduction was paid for by the Build Crozet Library fund, is displayed on the wall behind the library’s main desk. It shows a Trailways bus stopping in front of Crozet Theater on Main Street, as Crozet Avenue was formerly known, to take on passengers. In the foreground is a 1941 Ford pickup truck loaded with oil cans that was owned by Leonard Sandridge’s father, who ran a gas station on Rt. 240. Sandridge was on hand for the unveiling and said he still has the pictured oil cans.

On The Square are Crozet Drug, The Red Front Market (the ancestor of Crozet Great Valu), and Crozet Hotel on the second floor of what is now The Mudhouse. On the right the portico columns of the 1907 Crozet Bank building are in view.

James noted that the photo shows 33 people, of whom 24 are white, and one dog. “Only the dog is looking at Hubert take the picture,” said James. “This is a really good cross-section of Crozet at the time. Nothing is lacking in Crozet at this time. You didn’t need to drive anywhere.

Phil James unveiling the photograph.
Phil James unveiling the photograph.

“The time is just before the opening of Morton Frozen Foods and ACME Visible Records, who together employed about 3,000 people,” said James.

He read from some reminisces recorded by Gentry. “I realized how lucky those of us who grew up in Crozet really were. And it is still that way,” Gentry said. He described the hectic peach harvest season and details from boyhood life, such as how the passing of The George Washington, a passenger train, through town was the signal for bedtime for local children.

“I am so pleased there will be a reminder of what Crozet was,” said Gentry, who was valedictorian at CHS the year after he took the picture.

“Changes happen in towns that are alive,” said James. “Crozet was alive.”

Phil James
Phil James

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