For residents of Charlottesville, Barracks Road Shopping Center has been a fixture as a shopping destination since it opened in 1959. Easily accessed by foot from the University of Virginia, and neighborhoods just off Rugby & Alderman Roads, by bus from all over the city and, of course, by car, Barracks Road has made a place for itself in the hearts and minds of residents and visitors alike.
Now considered one of the oldest in the county, at 56 years of age, advertising back in the day boasted of its “acres of free parking” as it was being built by area developer, Rinehart.
As noted in old black and white photos by longtime local photographer Ed Roseberry, Barracks Road displaced a famous tavern called Carroll’s Tea Room, which was located at the corner of Emmet and Barracks Road. Moore’s history of Charlottesville reports that although it often possessed neither tea nor room, Carroll’s was “an oasis for thousands of thirsty university students.”
The Barracks Road logo – a rider on a horse – also hearkens back to historical times – in this case the Revolutionary War period when cavalry soldiers manned the “Barracks,” which were constructed west of town near Ivy Farms to house British and German prisoners-of-war. The name “Hessian Hills” also comes from that time period.
Now home to over 87 shops – with 18 in the “North Wing” – you can find everything from Barnes & Noble, Michael’s, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Kroger and Kate Spade to speciality shops like Scarpa, Levy’s, The Happy Cook and Plow & Hearth, to restaurants like Peter Chang China Grill, Chipotle, Brixx and then local favorites like Hotcakes and Aromas, to name a few.
Until recently, there also used to be one of the last full service gas stations in town, but that has now been replaced by a strip of shops that include Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar and Zoe’s Kitchen, among others.
The famous fountain that every kid in Charlottesville has either thrown a coin into, or used the water to splash a friend or sibling, has been upgraded recently and now is a pleasant backdrop for a pleasant outdoor sitting area for Five Guys, Panera and those who are tired from all the walking.
Ben & Jerry’s has replaced the Baskin Robbins, but it’s usually crowded on warm spring and summer days. Many locals also enjoy the annual Holiday Parade where Santa arrives to set up shop for the season.
The annual Sidewalk Sales – one is coming up June 4-7 – are a great time to browse and find real bargains.
Barracks Road is also home to one of the oldest businesses in town – Staples Barber Shop. Founded in 1923 in the Downtown area, it relocated to Barracks Road in the early years in an attempt by the developer to lure locals to the new center that, at that time, was located “in the country,” a phrase we would find laughable now, but, back then, it truly was.