The Chancellor Building – Then & Now

Posted on Aug 25, 2016 in Commercial Construction, Community, Historic | No Comments

Blog Title

T H E   C H A N C E L L O R   B U I L D I N G


By Hannah Mahaffey

Chancellor Drugstore

Chancellor Drugstore

If the walls of the Chancellor building could talk, they’d tell you about the renovations Martin Horn, Inc. completed in early 2016. But the story of the Chancellor building didn’t start there. In fact, it goes back more than a century.


James Edgar Chancellor

James Edgar Chancellor

Samuel Chancellor, son of James Edgar Chancellor (who lived in the Birdwood estate), moved to Charlottesville after graduating from Pharmaceutical College in Baltimore, Maryland. He first attempted the study of medicine with the hopes of becoming a medical doctor, but impaired eyesight forced him to instead pursue a career as a pharmacist. Over the next several years, he worked under several pharmacists in Baltimore, Richmond and Charlottesville. He worked weekends and never took vacations, in order to accumulate a large amount of savings. In June of1890, he bought out the drug store of R.C.A. Seiburg in Charlottesville. He was 31.


Many years later, in June of 1905, then 45 years old, he was married to Clarissa Lynn Rodes, who was only 25. In 1906, prior to ever celebrating their first anniversary, Clarissa died after a failed appendectomy.


Samuel Chancellor

Samuel Chancellor

Heartbroken and lonely, Samuel began leasing his home on then-called Staunton Avenue (later renamed Chancellor Street after his family), to a boarding house matron, keeping one room for himself.


In 1914, he joined the Corner beautification movement, inspired by the new Entrance Building (now: Corner Building), which had been designed by the famous architect, Eugene Bradbury. Chancellor both renovated and added new construction to the building, with space for three stores on the ground floor and eleven rooms on the second.


In addition to Chancellor’s drugstore, the building also was home to popular UVA boxing coach Johnny La Rowe’s Billard Parlor.


The first proprietress of the building was Mrs. Lizzie Gill Thurman, who operated the University Tea Room in the Entrance Building, which was advertised as “the most artistic tea room in the South/modeled after up-to-date New York tea rooms” (College Topics). Her residents would have stayed in the Chancellor Building, and then had meals in the tea room.


Gil Thurman

Lizzie Gill Thurman

“After Chancellor died in 1922, the property remained in his family’s care until the 1930s, when it was sold to the Timberlakes (a rival family in the Charlottesville drugstore trade.) Today the building houses the Qdoba Mexican Grill, the Freeman-Victorius Framing Shop and the Corner Market Convenience Store, in addition to the residential rooms known as the Chancellor Apartments. The rooms are leased on a month-to-month basis (although not usually to students); residents share bathrooms and a kitchen.” – “The Corner”


chancellordrugAt Martin Horn, we are glad to be apart of The Chancellor Building story and love the history of our city. With the new renovations, we hope that many tenants enjoy the Chancellor Apartments and the work we completed there for years to come. Who knows?—maybe the history books will tell our part in The Chancellor Building story one day.




Check out this article as posted in our company newsletter! — Nuts+Bolts-June16_Insert