Charlottesville, not unlike today, was home to a great deal of old money during the 1930s. It was not uncommon for rich industry tycoons to flee the industrialized North and land in peaceful Charlottesville, which made for a profitable real estate industry. Especially in areas where agriculture was struggling, the land could be sold off at a handsome profit to a wealthy transplant looking to buy a beautiful Old Virginia farm. During the forty or so years before the Depression, Charlottesville's leaders were generally in favor of bringing industry to the area, but had only moderate success. After seeing in the Depression what the rest of the nation had gained (or lost rather) by industrialization, the leaders of Charlottesville quickly had a change of heart. As Moore puts it, "Over drinks (Prohibition not-withstanding) rich men who had fled the smokestacks and grime of northern industrial centers undoubtedly pressed home their conviction that Charlottesville and its lovely countryside were indeed fortunate to have escaped such a fate." (1)
In 1927, local investors, namely the Stevens real estate company, founded the Farmington Country Club. They successfully built a new 18 hole golf course (pictured at right) to go with the new guest quarters, swimming pool, and remodeled club house. Virginia's newest country club immediately had one of the oldest clubhouses, a house partially designed by Albemarle's most famous architect, Mr. Jefferson himself. As the Depression held the rest of the nation tight in its grip, wealthy Albemarle residents built fantastic new mansions on the Farmington site, like the Galban estate pictured below. Most of the mansions built in the 30s were built in the most traditional colonial style, making Farmington an all new club with a very Old Virginia feel. This quality made Farmington especially appealing to the newly wealthy and to transplants from other parts of the country looking to own their own piece of colonial Virginia tradition.
Albemarle County had very wealthy people in significant numbers during the 30s, an aspect of the county that has changed little since then. Albemarle could boast being the only county in the nation to have three recognized hunt clubs in existence at the same time: the Albemarle, the Keswick, and the Farmington. Needless to say, fox hunting was not something these people did because the Depression had forced them out of their jobs at the factory; they simply were wealthy enough to be above the general economic conditions of the nation.
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Notes 1. John Hammond Moore, Albemarle, Jefferson's County (Charlottesville, Va.: 1976) 372