200 South Street's part in Charlottesville history began In 1856, when James Woods, a local builder, completed the larger of our two houses. He then sold the property to Thomas Jefferson Wertenbaker, the son of Thomas Jefferson's close friend, and the University of Virginia's first librarian, William Wertenbaker.
The house changed hands in 1882. Another distinguished family, the Valentines, moved in. Mr. Valentine was a prominent businessman with interests in a bank, the cable car company, and the woolen mills here in Charlottesville. At this time the main building was the only building located on the block. The photograph in your room is the house as it was in 1903 when the Valentine family occupied it. Most of the original furnishings are in the Valentine Museum in Richmond, Virginia. Mrs. Irene Valentine, whose husband Vinton was born in room 9 (the portrait of the young boy in room 9 is Vinton, age 3, painted by his older sister in 1888), resided on Park Street here in Charlottesville, Virginia, until recently. The Wertenbaker house took an interesting turn later when it became a girls finishing school, then a boarding house, and at one stage, a brothel (known legally in Virginia as a 'Bawdy House').
The two homes, both dignified charlottesville properties, fell into relative despair over the years. Our main building was used as a boarding house, initially for University students and other young men, and later for even more unsavory types.
The historic district homes were bought in 1984 from 'Blind Jennie' Donaldson, who ran the boarding house and lived in what is now our second, smaller building.