Saturday, April 14, 2012

U-Va. Historian Corrects Student Tour Guides

The Washington Post
13 April 2012

U-Va. historian corrects student tour guides

By Jenna Johnson, The Washington Post

CHARLOTTESVILLE -- As the University of Virginia’s chief historian walked along the iconic campus Lawn one day years ago, he overheard a student tour guide explain the history of the Romance Pavilion: It was once home to a 19th-century professor and his beautiful daughter, who fell in love with a student whom her parents deemed unsuitable. She pined away for him and eventually died of a broken heart. Her spirit still haunts the pavilion.

No, no, no, Alexander G. “Sandy” Gilliam Jr. remembers thinking. It’s called the Romance Pavilion because Romance languages were once taught there.

“I took French there,” said Gilliam, 78, who graduated from U-Va. in 1955 with a history degree, returned in 1975 for a job and stuck around. Gilliam asked the head of the student guides to stop by his office -- and to bring a yellow tablet and pencil to take notes.

“They have very vivid imaginations,” said Gilliam, who was once a guide himself. “And you have to admire their inventiveness.” [...]