New Bank Building / Acme Shaving Parlor
    by Julia Munro

"New Bank Building / Acme Shaving Parlor," a photograph taken by Rufus W. Holsinger on September 24, 1914. 

The photograph shows two African Americans (who appear to be posing for the photo, by standing still and in front of the building); no identifying information is known, aside from the title by which the photograph is labelled in the Holsinger ledgers. The library catalogue describes the building as being on Main St.

Of particular interest is the building signage which reads, "Acme Shaving Parlor" (where the gentleman in the hat is standing). A sign in the window also says Acme, and is next to a barber's pole. To the right of him is the bare-headed gentleman, who is standing before signage that can be partially read: "Zimm...Druggists." The Charlottesville City Directory of 1914-15 provides details for these signs. The druggist shop would have been "Zimmerman-Link Co. Inc., Druggists" at 121 East Main (p. 210). At the corner is a sign for Billiards; this was likely the Billiards parlor at 123 East Main (owned by S. L. Leterman) (p.124).

Acme Shaving Parlor was run by two African American men, Oscar G. Conn and L.W. Robinson (p.33). Their full names were Oscar G. Conn (home Dice Street) and Lafayette W. Anderson (home 278 West Main) (pp. 67, 159).

The portrait by Holsinger photograph is especially important in showing one of several businesses run by African Americans in this time period. The images, along with the City Directories, tell us the location of the businesses, where the proprietors lived, their potential customers, the neighborhoods or business districts, and so on, helping us to better understand the actual lived environment of Charlottesville and surrounding counties in the Jim-Crow era.

Conn and Robinson regularly advertized in the Daily Progress, with their ad often appearing on the bottom right of third page (for example, below, from the November 29, 1918 issue). The ad reads, "Thoroughly sanitary, Handsomely furnished, Big electric fan, five chairs, Very latest equipment in electric massage and hair dryers, Hand massage by experts a Specialty, Prompt services Polite attention." (In 1917 issues, the ad still appears on the third page, with the same text.) 

Daily Progress, November 29, 1918 Ad (p.3)
Acme Shaving Parlor Ad

Other businesses/owners photographed by Holsinger include Acme Shaving Parlor, William F. and Charles H. Brown (Brown Barber Shop), A. T. Buckner (and son George F. Buckner, grocers), George Carr's Second Hand ClothingDr. George F. FergusonDr. George R. Johnson, Mr. J. P. HawkinsW. G. Layne (Layne and Whitlock, Wheelright/Blacksmith), J.F. Taylor, and D. J. Ward. Interestingly, ads for Acme Shaving Parlor, D.J. Ward's clothes pressing business, J. F. Bell's Funeral Home, and other "colored businesses" often appeared on the same page (below). 

Daily Progress Ad, September 14, 1917 (p.3)
1917 ads

The complexities for African Americans operating businesses in the Jim Crow period is perhaps best seen, literally, in looking at the full page of the above ads, which includes a "mammy" cariacature in the regularly posted comic strip, "Scoop." See "Freedman's Tally" for more information about African Americans operating businesses in the Jim Crow Era. 
Daily Progress Full Page
The Holsinger portrait is included here in that, although not a posed studio portraits of African Americans, it shows one of several key African-American owned businesses in this time period. 

NOTE that the name with which the portrait is labelled (or, labelled "untitled") is not necessarily the name of the sitter(s) in the portrait, but rather the name of the person who paid for the portrait when it was taken (the date and name associated with each photograph is from the business ledgers of R. W. Holsinger). 

Below: X04542AB
New Bank Building Charlottesville

- "New Bank Building Charlottesville," 1914-09-24 photograph in UVA Library Catalogue (X02624B)

Charlottesville City Directory, 1914-15 [Hathi Trust]

- Acme Shaving Parlor Ad, The Daily Progress, Friday Afternoon, November 29, 1918. Charlottesville Virginia, No. 8904 (p.3).

- Daily Progress Ads, The Daily Progress, Friday Afternoon September 14, 1917. Charlottesville Virginia, Issue 86280 (p.3)


Holsinger Image Gallery of African Americans

J. F. Bell Funeral Home Records

1870 & 1910 U. S. Census - Charlottesville & Esmont Communities

Cite This Entry

  • APA Citation:

    Munro, J. New Bank Building / Acme Shaving Parlor (2022, March 21). In Holsinger Portrait Project. Retrieved from

  • MLA Citation:

    Munro, Julia. "New Bank Building / Acme Shaving Parlor." Holsinger Portrait Project. Univ. Virginia, 21 March 2022. Web. [Date accessed].

First published: February 2, 2022 | Last modified: February 02, 2022

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