The Wonder Years

How real estate and gentrification changed Belmont for good

C-VILLE cover story for 8/28/2012

The old Belmont Store, torn down in 1960 when the new Belmont bridge was built.


“One big problem is change. [The older residents] don’t understand change is happening and why it’s happening, and sometimes I don’t understand it myself.” – Jimmy Dettor, lifelong Belmont resident. From the documentary, Still Life With Donuts.

When she arrived in Charlottesville in the summer of 1976, Joan Schatzman didn’t think of herself as a pioneer. She was 24, fresh out of college in Boston, and when her best friend Debbie decided to go to grad school at UVA, she went along for the ride.

Initially they rented an apartment near Grounds, but in the spring of 1978, Joan, Debbie, and another friend decided to buy a house across town in an old, run-down neighborhood called Belmont.
“Belmont?” people said. “You can’t live in Belmont!”
“Nothing but trouble there.”

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