Pen Park

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Pen Park is the largest park in Charlottesville consisting comprising 280 acres. It is from this park that Park Street takes its name[1].

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Pen Park offers: [1]

  • Eight tennis courts
  • Little-League baseball field with batting cage
  • Volleyball court
  • Three outdoor picnic shelters
  • Playground with tot area for children ages 2-5 years old
  • 18-hole Meadowcreek Golf Course with clubhouse and pro shop
  • Outdoor physical fitness course with 20 exercise stations winding through the natural setting toward the Rivanna River and back.
This course has been adapted for the blind and handicapped, as well as non-handicapped individuals of all ages to use. There is a 1 1/2 mile long trail along the Rivanna river at the end of the nature trail
  • Seasonal farmer's market on Tuesdays (May through September)[2]


Pen Park (stone entrance gate pillars, ca. 1800; Meadowcreek Golf Course clubhouse, ca. 1972)

The Lynch family once owned the Pen Park land. The land was later acquired by John Harvie. In 1777, Dr. George Gilmer, physician to Thomas Jefferson, purchased the land and his family owned it until 1800[3].

A cemetery on the current golf course has graves from several local families, the Gilmers (1777-1800), the Cravens (until the Civil War), and the Hotopps, who grew grapes on the land for their winery into the early 20th century. The Gilmers seem to have the most significant presence in the old graveyard. Dr. George Gilmer and his family owned Park Mill (later called Cochran’s Mill), the 18th-century miller’s house on Meadow Creek still standing.[4].

In 2019, an investigation uncovered unmarked burial sites outside of the Gilmer cemetery. [5] Ground-penetrating radar has identified about 43 unmarked graves just outside the walls of the established cemetery, probably for people enslaved by the Gilmers and the Cravens.[6] Preservationists came to the specific conclusion that they were graves for enslaved persons based on the location of the graves in relation to the rest of the cemetery. They are on the opposite side of the graveyard to the entrance, outside of the defined boundaries. The size, depth, and east-west orientation aligns with historic local burial practices.[6] In addition, there is an oral tradition of those who died while enslaved by the Gilmers and the Cravens were buried outside of the "family plot." This is known to be common practice among families who enslaved people.[7] Jeff Werner, the leading preservationist on this project, reported this to City Council on November 2, 2020.[6]


One of the alignments for the proposed Eastern Connector was depicted as traveling through Pen Park. [8]


Pen Park's southern and eastern border is the Rivanna River, and together with the northern northern border of the park form the border with Albemarle County. Opposite the river to the south sits Darden Towe Park.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Web. Pen Park, City of Charlottesville, retrieved May 7, 2021.
  2. Web. The Market at Pen Park, Website, City of Charlottesville, retrieved May 16, 2024.
  3. Lancaster, Robert A. Historic Virginia Homes and Churches. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1915. Google Books. Web. 22 Nov. 2009. <>.
  4. Web. Ask Ace: Tee to tomb, What's up with that cemetery?, C-ville Weekly, Issue #21.16 :: 04/21/2009, retrieved 28 Sep 2009.
  5. Web. City to examine possible slave graves at Pen Park, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, December 10, 2019, retrieved December 14, 2019. Print. December 10, 2019 page A1.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Web. History course: Unmarked graves, likely belonging to enslaved, found in Pen Park, Hitchcock, Ben, C-VILLE Weekly, Portico Publications, November 4, 2020, retrieved June 3, 2021. Print. November 4, 2020 .
  7. Web. Pen Park, Rainville, Lynn, Website, African American Cemeteries in Albemarle & Amherst Counties, 2011, retrieved June 3, 2021.
  8. Web. Pen Park route for Eastern Connector back on the table, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, Octover 9, 2007, retrieved May 7, 2021.