Late-Night Learning

As most of you know, it was a pretty late night for many members of the University community. I was assigned to cover the Faculty Senate’s called vigil outside the Rotunda, and spent more than 12 hours taking notes and standing around as the Board of Visitors deliberated over choosing an interim president. Mostly standing around.

The crowd, which probably peaked at around 3,000 or more in the mid-afternoon, dwindled to several dozen as the board’s closed session dragged on into the late night and early morning. It provided to be an interesting assemblage of mostly faculty and undergraduate and graduate students, and an occasional dog.

Around 1:15 a.m., I noticed a group gathered around a laptop on the portico of the Rotunda, with a faculty member at the center, excitedly doing some teaching. It turned out to be architectural history professor Daniel Bluestone (photo, right); he had called up a PowerPoint presentation of some research he had done.

In reviewing land records and maps in Charlottesville from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he had been struck by incongruously large buildings amid smaller residences in a few areas of the then-small town. Digging further, he discovered that the larger structures were … brothels!

His engrossing late-night lecture, then, was a history of some of Charlottesville’s houses of ill repute (and their madams, many of whom became major landholders in the town), delivered to a “class” of maybe eight people.

Only in a University community …

And thank you, Mr. Bluestone!

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