Downtown Newport News, Virginia  
WAY BACK THEN:
1904 - Washington Avenue - Looking South 1906 - Washington Avenue  Back of postcard at left Washington Square 1906 - Washington Square
05/17/07  07/11/03 07/11/03 11/19/03 11/20/04
1909 - Washington Square 1910 - Washington Avenue - Looking North 1910 - President and Mrs. Wilson's Visit to Newport News 1929 - Washington Square 25th Street and Washington Avenue
03/16/03  10/28/03 01/29/04 08/22/03  09/01/05
 
1908 - 34th Street Bridge and Railroad Tracks Washington Avenue North of 29th Street After 1910 - Washington Avenue - Looking North
 
Trees from Washington
Square are visible in the middle of the block
on the right
Postmarked 1915 - 28th Street at Washington Avenue (This building will become Antine's) 1915 - Back of previous postcard
10/22/03 12/30/03 12/29/03 04/19/04 04/19/04
 
1917 - Washington Avenue at Night 1917 - Back of previous postcard 1922 - U.S. Cavalry Camp on 23rd Street; the Warwick Hotel is in the background 1920 - Washington Avenue 1920s - Washington Avenue Looking South
08/22/03 08/22/03 02/17/04 11/18/03 07/11/03
 
 
Merchants Marine Bank Building Back of postcard at left First National Bank Before 1940 - Washington Avenue
Looking North
 
11/19/03 11/19/03  12/01/03  11/28/09  

These fascinating old images are all courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA.
WOWZERONI!  Thanks, Dave!

THEN:
1944 - Washington Avenue
Looking North
Back of postcard at left 1940s - Washington Avenue -  Looking South 1940s - Washington Avenue
Looking South
1960s - Washington Avenue
Looking North
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64)
of VA - 08/22/03
Thanks, Dave!
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64)
of VA - 08/22/03
Thanks, Dave!
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64)
of VA - 10/22/03
Thanks, Dave!
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64)
of VA - 11/02/03

Postcard Originally from the Collection of Fred Mays ('60)
Thanks, Dave - and Fred!
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64)
of VA - 12/01/03
WOWZERS! 
Thanks, Dave!
 
 
  1950's - Christmas Parade 1950's - Bystanders at Parade 1950's - Fire Truck in Parade 1950's - Boys Club in Parade
        BACK ROW: Bill Hornsby, Herbie Morewitz ('33), George McIntosh, Walter Rilee, Harry Shoff, _____ _____, and Don Hyatt;
FRONT ROW: Ronnie Haney ('65) of VA and Terry Haney ('66) of VA
  Courtesy of Aretie Gallins Patterson ('59) of Northern VA - 11/26/05
Thanks so very much, Aretie!
Courtesy of Aretie Gallins Patterson ('59) of Northern VA - 11/26/05
Thanks so very much, Aretie!
Courtesy of Aretie Gallins Patterson ('59) of Northern VA - 11/26/05
Thanks so very much, Aretie!
Courtesy of Terry Haney ('66)
of VA - 11/13/09
Thanks, Terry!
 
THE AVENUE
The (first photo in this section, the 1944 looking north) was taken looking north from the middle of the intersection at 29th Street.  Just out of near view on the left would have been the Hanover Shoe Store. Note the streetcar tracks which would survive until late 1946 when busses would take over.  These old photos were colorized and touched up.  The overhead wiring and poles for the trolley do not show.  The colors for the street surface imply brick, but this was not so.  Probably the touchup artist thought such enhancements looked good and would help sell postcards. 

Prominent on the left is Woolworth's.  The touchup artist got that sign color right!  The store was a sacred destination for any kid under 10 and fully guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, Virginia State Law, and the Old Testament.  Inside was the infamous long toy counter - one side for boys, one for girls.  Little kids had to be lifted up to see everything, but by age 4 you would be turned loose to stroll and drool while mother went off to look at whatever mothers looked at then. 

I can remember mid-1930s excursions with my mother and suffering extreme torture while being dragged through all the dress shops on Washington Avenue.  My patience would be stretched beyond human endurance with promises that we would end our trip with a visit to Woolworth's.  Usually by then I would have successfully built her guilt to the point where she would pop for something at the lunch counter.  Woolworth's cherry pie was a dream come true and would quickly steer childhood emotions back to near normal.

In the block on the right was Barclay's Jewelry Store, Epes Stationery, and Monfalcone's (where the jocks hung out). 

To Kent Miller:  That tall modernistic-looking white building on the left is Kresge's.  It was on the NW corner of 30th Street.  In 1941, some kid just freshly arrived from Phoebus was mercifully taken to lunch there by three of his new classmates.

Be aware that things have changed.  Don't expect to relive your memories with a walk down The Avenue.  Stick to old postcards and cherry pie.

- Fred Field ('45) of CA - 04/01/06
BOY HOWDY!!!  Thanks, Fred!
 

 


Thanksgiving just past and Christmas on its way brings back memories of the season in downtown Newport News. New York City has its Macy Day Parade, but in downtown Newport News in the Fifties we had a Christmas Parade, too. Although I canít remember for sure, it seems to me now that it was held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, rather than the first Saturday in December as many communities do now.

In our Christmas parade we had inflatables, too. They rode on platforms on wheels. Iím sending a picture of one of the Christmas parades. My father took the picture from the second story of his restaurant, the Sanitary, located on the southeast corner of Washington Avenue and 31st Street, so we are looking north on Washington Avenue toward 32nd Street. You can see Nachmanís Department Store marquee in the picture. Leggettís is beyond Nachmanís, and beyond Leggettís you can make out the sign for Hofheimerís Shoe Store. Hannaís Dress Shop would have been across the street from Hofheimerís. In the foreground of the picture the Christmas lights are visible stretching from light pole to light pole.

At night the stores were open late for the holiday shopping and the red and green lights shone overhead with a star with white lights at each intersection. You can make out one of the stars hanging in the intersection just above the second inflatable animalís head. When the stores stayed open late, the streets were crowded with people. All up and down the avenue we shopped at Nachmanís, Leggettís, Hannaís, Hofheimerís Shoe Store, the Parisian Shop, La Vogue, Blechmanís, Punch n Judy, Whelanís Drug Store, Woolworthís, Epes Stationary Store, Barclayís Jewelry Store, Barr Brothers Jewelry Store.

Whelanís had a cosmetic counter that fascinated me in my preteen years. Each week of the year I took my Christmas Club Savings Book to the First National Bank to deposit my 25 cents. The teller tore out a coupon and marked each deposit on the stub. One Christmas I went to Whelanís to spend my Christmas Club Savings on an elegant set of Evening in Paris toiletries for my mother. I fell in love with the midnight blue and the white sateen lining the box . What dreams of glamour the set evoked! Another Christmas I went to Whelanís to buy her a gleaming gold-toned brush and mirror set that I was sure was like the one on the Queen of Englandís dresser!

It was an exciting season. When I was growing up in Newport News, stores closed everyday at 6:00. At some point in time, they began to stay open on Friday nights until 9:00 but that was about it. The holiday season was different! The Christmas parade signaled the start of the later closing hours. Stores stayed open late, and it was exciting to go to Washington Avenue to see the Christmas lights and the displays in Nachmanís big glass show windows. Crowds of shoppers thronged the streets.

There was a store on Huntington Avenue near 34th Street or so, I think,  that had all sorts of fascinating toys for kids and was a favorite place of mine during the holiday shopping season. I canít remember if it was a Western Auto Store.  Santa Claus was either at Nachmanís or Montgomery Ward. I donít remember if he was at both stores or if he was at one store and then in later years moved to the other. I do remember going to Montgomery Wardís basement to see Santa. He looked so much the part that I was convinced he was the absolute, real guy that lived at the North Pole.

My mental image of Santa was formed by the Coca Cola calendars on the wall of Samís market. Sam was an elderly man who wore a cap all the time and ran a small fruit and vegetable place on the side of 32nd Street opposite Nachmanís, just below Washington Avenue. He was located near Mrs. Foxís candy store. Cheneyís Studio was in that same area. Mrs. Fox had great candy that I think she made. The reward that most motivated me was candy from Mrs. Foxís. Anyway, Samís Coca Cola calendars of Santa Claus formed my ideas of what Santa looked like and the Santa at Montgomery Ward looked just like that to my eyes.

Newport News also had parades during Fire Prevention Week and Armed Forces Week. I am sending two more pictures from parades. Iím not sure which parade the picture of the fire truck is from, maybe a Fire Prevention Week parade?  In that picture you can make out the sign for Tops Grill. I canít remember exactly which block that was in and could not figure out from the City Directory Pages on the website here. Iíll try again another time. The photo of the people watching a parade I would guess is from an Armed Forces Day parade judging from the dress of the bystanders, for that parade was held in May. I think the crowd there is standing in front of Woolworthís.

- Aretie Gallins Patterson ('59) of Northern VA - 11/26/05
Thank you so very much, Aretie!
 

 
Christmas 1965 Christmas Day,
Sunday, December 25, 1966
1969 - from the Daily Press 1970s - Washington Avenue - Looking North 1972 - Washington Avenue  - Looking South
Courtesy of Tim Parsons ('73) of VA - 07/10/04
Oh, WOWZERS! 
Thanks, Tim!
Courtesy of the Daily Press - 01/04/10 Courtesy of Tim Parsons ('73) of VA - 12/02/05
 WOWZERS-YOWZERS! 
Thanks, Tim!
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 02/18/04
Thanks, Dave!
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 01/17/05
YOWZERS!  Thanks, Dave!

 

THEN:
Hill's City Directory for Newport News - Downtown, 1954
1965 City Directory - Huntington Avenue
1965 City Directory - Washington Avenue

These directories courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 10/28/03 and 11/08/03
Thanks, Dave!

THEN AND NOW:
In visiting "Old Stomping Grounds" today, for the first time I noticed that you had listed the state of downtown as "Mutilated".  Great description!
I guess I had never noticed because most places are simply "GONE"!  It just caught my eye
for some reason.
 
It is a pity.  The city has no problem with building "up" midtown, which is actually saying: we have given up on any effort to revitalize downtown! 
What a waste!!
Waterfront areas that other cities would go
to war over to acquire, "we" simply ignore.
Baltimore, as well as Norfolk, could serve as an excellent example of "if you build it, they will come".
 
The interstate "drops" right into downtown.
Getting there would be no problem.
When I win the super zuper lottery, I'm going
to buy downtown and make it the place to be!
I know it would work.
 
There you have it!

- Wayne Stokes of VA - 04/09/04

Thanks, Wayne!

In some of the latest images which
Dave Spriggs ('64) has graciously given us,
I've noticed with shock and dismay that many
of the newer downtown structures appear
to have been designed and built behind the Iron Curtain - stark, ugly, and altogether unpleasant.
They seem to have been born
in someone's nightmare.

What a shame we cannot awaken.

- Carol Buckley Harty of NC - 04/09/04

 

Friday, Sept. 26, 2003
"Looking north
on Washington Avenue from the top level
of a parking garage
at the southeast corner
of Washington and 30th.
It shows just how much
of downtown has disappeared."

-  Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 09/26/03

Thanks so much, Dave! 
This is a real treasure!
 

 

THEN AND NOW:

"Compare these (four pairs of) images. 
The camera angle is the same, but the scene has changed considerably after 40 years."
 
1960s Friday, September 26, 2003 1960s Saturday, April 3, 2004
Washington Avenue -
Looking North
Washington Avenue -
Looking North
Washington Avenue -
Looking North
Washington Avenue -
Looking North
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 07/11/03 Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 09/26/03 Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 12/01/03

THE HOLY GRAIL!

Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 04/03/04

THE UNHOLY GRAIL!

 
1909 Saturday, April 3, 2004 Early 1900s Tuesday, April 6, 2004
Washington Square "This was as close to it
as I could get."
U. S. Cavalry Camp and Warwick Hotel Site of U. S. Cavalry Camp
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 03/16/03 Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 04/03/04 Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 02/17/03 Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 04/06/04
Thanks so very much, Dave! 
This is an amazing photographic archive which you've assembled for us!

 
Hi, Carol:
This is a reflection on courage in the little city of Newport News back in the early '50's.
 
I selected Downtown in Our Old Stomping Grounds for that is where The Daily Press and The Times-Herald were
located during the time that I learned a great lesson in life while delivering newspapers in
East End. Within the boundaries
of my assigned paper route for home delivery when I started delivering newspapers were 15 customers who only subscribed
to the Sunday Edition of The Daily Press.
Being an enterprising entrepreneur at that young age, I solicited home delivery for the week days and Saturday from these
special customers when I made my rounds collecting on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. After quite a few rejections,
I suppose it must have shown on my face and one of my "Sunday Only" customers was a
shipyard worker who followed me
out to the sidewalk where I was mounting my trusty J.C. Higgins bicycle. He told me that he enjoyed reading The Times-Herald
on the way home while riding on the
CRT buses used to express workers to their homes after the day shift ended. But the real
reason
he purchased the newspaper at the main gate of the
shipyard was the newspaper boy who had a stand selling papers
at the main gate. It was a wooden crate, rather than a typical news stand, that this young man used to sell his newspapers.
 
He explained that this particular newspaper boy was the one who rode on a skateboard to get around, and I knew immediately 
the person he was talking about that day. This shipyard worker had compassion and loyalty. I was fairly certain the other 14
shipyard workers were motivated the same way, so I stopped wasting their time soliciting week day delivery, for I understood
what was more important to them. That was the way many people in Newport News looked at things back then.
 
While I admired the football running backs like Dennis Ilish ('56) and other athletes at NNHS it was this young man that
demonstrated the most courage of them all in our high school. This young man had a serious birth defect that prevented him
from walking, but it did not stop him for working and getting around, using a skate board long before skateboards were as
popular as they are today.
 
He used to move about the halls of NNHS on that skateboard changing classes. He had blonde hair, but I do not know his
name. He had more courage than most of us, and he did not rely upon welfare to take care of him. His mother also sold
newspapers on
Washington Avenue. She wore her hair in a "Dutch Boy" style and I used to see her paying her bill at the
Newspaper Office and picking up her papers to get a jump on other "paper boys" as we were known back then. She could
"flick" a cigarette butt further than any man, and I doubt anyone tried to steal a paper from her news stand. I am certain that
some of your subscribers will know the name of this courageous young man.

- Joe Madagan ('57) of FL - 01/05/05
NICE story - thanks, Joe!
 


I wonder if Joe Madagan ('57) of FL might be remembering Jimmy Lee Raynor who had blond hair and was
a talented artist.  His mother was Rosalie Raynor.  Rosalie walked Jimmy to and from John W. Daniel every
day from the first grade until we left after the 7th grade.  She pulled a red wagon for the newspapers and had
a coin changer on her belt that clinked as she walked.  And yes, she could smoke with the best of them.  She
wore trousers and had a short haircut.  Rosalie, Jimmy, and his grandmother sold newspapers on Washington
Avenue, sometimes in front of the Woolworth's 5 & 10 Cent store.  I remember his grandmother was blind
in one eye, and I think that it was she who scooted around on a skateboard. 

- Kelly Loose Bustamante (í58) of TX - 01/06/05:
AHA! Another mystery solved??? Thanks, Kelly!
 


I know the current MIDI is the uplifting Petula Clark song of the same name ("Downtown").
But, if one day you wish to change it and make a political statement,
then this must be the new MIDI for that page:

http://www.sky.sannet.ne.jp/kazfkda/joni/yellowtaxi.html

 - Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 05/15/04

As resistant as I am to change, this was WAY too good to pass up!  Thanks, David - you are a genius!


Big Yellow Taxi
- Joni Mitchell
They paved paradise, And put up a parking lot With a pink hotel, a boutique And a swinging hot spot.
Don't it always seem to go, That you don't know what you've got Till it's gone.
They paved paradise And put up a parking lot.

They took all the trees And put them in a tree museum And they charged all the people A dollar and a half just to see' em.
Don't it always seem to go, That you don't know what you've got Till it's gone.
They paved paradise And put up a parking on.

Hey farmer farmer, Put away that D.D.T. now. Give me spots on my apples, But leave me the birds and the bees Please!
Don't it always seem to go That you don't know what you've got Till it's gone.
They paved paradise And put up a parking lot.

Late last night, I heard the screen door slam. And a big yellow taxi took away my old man.
Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till it's gone.
They paved paradise, And put up a parking lot. 

"Big Yellow Taxi" lyrics and midi courtesy of http://www.sky.sannet.ne.jp/kazfkda/joni/yellowtaxi.html
at the inspired suggestion of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 05/15/04.
Thanks so much, Dave!

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