Genteel Erosion: Perpetuated Abrasion within Northwest Locust Grove

Research Paper
Author:Hickman, Anna, Architectural HistoryUniversity of Virginia

This research and exploration consider genteel erosion as experienced and enacted upon Charlottesville’s Locust Grove neighborhood from the 18th to 21st century. The research is centered on the northwest portion of the neighborhood that is defined within the following contemporary boundaries: to the south by the 250 Bypass, to the east by Park St., to the north by Schenks Branch’s intersection with Meadow Creek, and to the west both by Schenks Branch and the John W. Warner Parkway. The research is categorized along three scales, 1) movement from an agricultural landscape to one of development, 2) development and erosion, and 3) genteel erosion. The first scale will explore agricultural uses over time, exploring how the land transitions from large properties of agricultural production to smaller residential parcels. This scale considers not only development of the built-environment and land but also of agricultural techniques employed over time. The second scale builds upon the work of the first by considering the contributions of development within and enacted upon the site toward erosion. Erosion in this case refers both to physical erosion of the natural environment as well as erosion of an agricultural economy in favor of industry. The third scale builds upon the previous two to consider how they reinforce systems and histories of the site’s genteel nature. While the site’s boundaries and thresholds exhibit shifts over time, their effect is consistent. The site’s evolution from large plots of agricultural landscape to smaller residential plots is shown to repeatedly employ or utilize boundary lines to assert ownership and maintain security while infrastructure, suburbanization, elevation, and waterways reinforce and maintain a culture of private ownership and socio-economic privilege. In synthesis, the three scales will ultimately demonstrate how genteel systems of the site demonstrate the maintenance of privileged accessibility and perpetuation of erosion of equity and hidden landscapes.

Park St, Locust Grove, Charlottesville, Schenks Branch, Meadow Creek, Agrictulture, Genteel Erosion, Suburbanization, ARH 3604 Field Methods I Building Archaeology
University of Virginia
Published Date:
May 14, 2021

This paper represents my culminating research from field work in Locust Grove over the course of the semester in ARH 3604 Field Methods I Building Archaeology taught by Alissa Diamond.