When I was a child, I accompanied my parents as they showed houses and farms in the Charlottesville area. I was a well-behaved girl, so I was allowed to explore the fascinating homes and estates. I grew up surrounded by the Charlottesville real estate market, but I never actually inquired about the history of Jos. T. Samuels Inc. until recently.
Three generations of real estate experts named Joseph? What’s the history there? I knew that my father, a lifelong history buff and professional collector of dinner table tales, would be the person to ask about the past 105 years of real estate history.
History of a Charlottesville Real Estate Institution
In 1913, when my great-grandfather Joseph M. Samuels started the company, real estate mainly operated through auctions. Farm estates were auctioned off in a county fair atmosphere. The community would gather for luncheon and bid on farm equipment, hay, and even livestock. Property sales were an all-day affair, and an integral part of the local social scene.
After World War II, my grandfather, Joseph T. Samuels, joined the family company. The real estate market evolved with the changing times in our country. There was a massive increase in mobility due to the invention of the automobile, and people were moving to Virginia from all parts of the nation. They had heard of its beauty, and they wanted part of it for themselves.
Expanding to Charlottesville
While the first two generations were based in Orange, my father, Joseph T. Samuels II, expanded the business to Charlottesville in the early 1980s. He realized that the growing town provided rich opportunities in both business and lifestyle.
Charlottesville has the beauty of rural countryside and enjoys the culture of a larger city. (I cover both sides extensively in this blog: from the best hiking, to the Charlottesville food scene to my favorite vineyards.) Charlottesville’s unique character is thanks in large part to the influence of intellectuals at the University of Virginia. UVA brings new neighbors and friends on a regular basis, which create a level of acceptance that is exceptional for a small southern town. For every student that attends the University, there are three members of supporting staff, giving Charlottesville a delightfully diverse population.
With our offices in historic Downtown, Jos. T Samuels can continue the legacy of focusing on farms and larger estates and offer properties closer to the city center. Our family business has always specialized in promoting the rural way of life, and the Charlottesville real estate market shows just how possible that is to preserve.
Keeping Charlottesville Rural
One thing I was fascinated to learn was how Charlottesville maintains its rural surroundings and keeps rapid development at bay. The Albemarle County Government Board of Supervisors allows certain areas to be developed, provided they can support extensive expansion with water and sewer. However, it preserves other areas that cannot sustain that level of growth.
In the 1990s, people started looking for communities with walking paths, soccer fields, and just an acre or two. Thus, multi-house developments started cropping up. Residents realized that the conservation and preservation of land in other areas was of extreme importance, and the local government responded positively.
The Acquisition of Conservation Easements (ACE Program) started to offer tax dollars to farmers who couldn’t otherwise afford to donate a conservation easement. This enabled them to sell that easement and get some cash to support their farms. These initiatives were funded by national and state grants supporting conservation, as well as tax dollars from residents. I wrote about my experience with conservation easements in this blog post.
This commitment to preservation makes Charlottesville a unique place to live and an incredible location in which to sell real estate. With a beautiful country setting and amenities of a larger city, one can experience the rural life and enjoy the conveniences of larger city living. Charlottesville provides a relaxed lifestyle, incredible private and public educational opportunities, sporting events, two excellent hospitals, a thriving arts and music scene, and of course a competitive gastronomical environment.
It is due to these world class lifestyle advantages that Charlottesville is genuinely a great place to work in the real estate market. We get to meet individuals who prize our dedication to culture and the rural lifestyle, and give them a tour of the city and surrounding counties that we love so much. Having been based in this area for over a century now, we feel that Jos. T. Samuels Inc. has a unique insight into the stories behind the estates, homes, and rolling hills that we offer for sale.