Ferguson Park Apartments
Newport News, VA 23607

1,200 units, “Built by the U.S. Navy in 1940 to care for workers
of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company
during the expanded naval program. Later transferred
to the Federal Public Housing Authority.”

- Newport News During the Second World War

- Courtesy of Norm Covert ('61) of MD - 05/09/08
Thanks, Norm!

Image of Sign courtesy
of Mildred Linkous Spriggs,
mother of Dave Spriggs ('64)
of VA - 04/11/03
Thanks, Dave!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64)
of VA - 05/21/08
Thanks, Dave!

Eastern boundary:  Warwick Boulevard (then Virginia Avenue)
Western boundary:  James River
Northern boundary:  Wellll, let's say Hornet Circle.  The apartments were on both sides of Hornet Circle.
To the north of the apartments was Huntington Park and the War Memorial Museum of Virginia.
Southern Boundary:  75th Street

Most of the defining streets are now gone.  They were named for aircraft carriers built by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., e.g. Hornet. Kearsarge, Enterprise, Ranger, Yorktown, Boxer, etc. I lived there twice:  1948-49 and 1952-1954.

It was a short walk over to Red's Pier to go fishing or swimming. (The James River was relatively clean and clear back then.) Red's Pier
was owned by Red Crossley. He would show up each year at the NNHS/HHS Turkey Day football game
carrying a pig. It was some sort
of tradition. Both Red AND the Pier (and I suppose the Pig) are long gone.

- Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 04/09/03 
Thanks, Dave!

THEN:
1948 - The site was Hornet Circle in Ferguson Park looking across Huntington Park toward the James River.  Of course, they have all been razed. This site is now public tennis courts. Saturday, May 11, 1963
Kay Eggleston ('66)
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 04/09/03
Thanks, Dave!
Carol Buckley Harty ('65) of NC - 06/06/02

To all...I must have missed the beginning of the Ferguson Park Apartments discussion, but wanted to add some personal knowledge.
I lived there until I was seven and remember them very well. They were quite a large complex where The Daily Press is now.
My mom always told me they were built during WWII as housing and converted to the public after the war.
I also remember that the largest hole in town was between them and the road that led into the James River Bridge.
This was great when it snowed and everyone in town came there to snow sled down the "slopes" into the hole.

I also had an aunt who lived at the River Apartments up until a few years ago.

I went to first grade at the old school "on the circle" on Jefferson Avenue (was it called Sinclair?... I'm not sure) across
from what became the first Newmarket Square. Back in the fifties this was a great area to live, as we were also walking
distance to
Red's Pier for the summers. I then moved to 35th Street when I went into the second grade.
Thanks for whoever brought it up as it shook my old memories up.

- Mickey Spivey ('65) of FL - 06/15/03
Thanks, Mickey! 


WAY BACK THEN:
Carol, I was doing some file housekeeping of attachments to old e-mails, and I came across this image. Lord only knows from whom I received it, and I had forgotten all about it. I have never seen a better image of the entire expanse of Ferguson Park, despite its age. I believe that it came to me as part of a discussion of the location of the old baseball park on Virginia Avenue.

Notice that it predates Red's Pier and that Military Highway crosses the railroad tracks, but ends at Jefferson Avenue; there was no traffic circle, nor any need for one at that time. Everything east of Jefferson Avenue was woods.

Anyway, it surely deserves a place on the FP page.
Fall 1941
- Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 05/04/08 
WOWZERONI-RINI - it surely does! Thanks, Dave!

THEN AND NOW:

Dave: What a great photo, I can see many familiar landmarks, including the two separate buildings I lived in on Hornet Circle.

I have inserted some remarks near Norm's comments:

Norm: ... Again Dave Spriggs (’64, VA) has sparked nostalgia with his photo of Ferguson Park;

Dave: The photo came to me from Bill Lee (Warwick HS - '54 - of NC) pursuant to our discussions about an old baseball park preceding War Memorial Stadium. You can see the park in the upper right of that photo.

also your memory of Stuart Gardens. Dave’s photo prompted me to dig out my volume, “Newport News During the Second World War.” I scanned the attached photo of a slightly different aerial angle of Ferguson Park. I was reminded that Ferguson Park straddled Military Highway (now Mercury Boulevard) to the James River Bridge. Huntington Park was on it northern edge and today I think the War Memorial Museum still sits on land once occupied by Ferguson Park units.

circa 1944 Friday, May 9, 2008
  Here is Norm's photo today.
- Norm Covert ('61) of MD - 05/09/08
Thanks, Norm!
- Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 05/09/08
Thanks, Dave!

Dave: When I lived there from 1953-1955, I ran all through those woods, around that lake, and hung out at the War Memorial Museum. It and all the FP units existed at the same time, so it was not erected on any former apartment site.

Norm: I have fond memories of Huntington Park, church picnics (Gospel Tabernacle, 600 block, 32nd Street), fishing at Red’s Pier (not much luck) and playing baseball (couldn’t hit Dan Rouse’s curve ball), I was No. 7 for the Exchange Club Little League Team at the ball field there for Manager Donald Volhein.

Dave: During my first stint at FP (1947-1949) I seem to have an image memory of that ball field and seeing night league softball games being played there. It was a short walk from our apartment and free entertainment in the years before TV.

Norm: I should add my pal Buddy Helterbran (’61, PA) played for the Moose, if memory serves me well. I remember a commercial launching pier on the south side of the bridge that my dad (Rev. Harry M. Covert, Sr.) and I ventured forth for fishing a few Saturdays in a rubber craft designed for sea emergencies, not fishing in the James. We had to be careful with the hooks! The helmsman was dubbed, Quagmire, don't ask me why!

At risk of boring your readers, the historical volume recounts the following housing projects in Newport News: Stuart Gardens, (980 units, “Built by the Defense Homes Corporation with funds furnished by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. The 280 acres on which Stuart Gardens is located was annexed from Warwick County in December 1940, immediately following plans for development of the area.”); St. James Terrace (80; believe on West Avenue and 29th Street); Seven Oaks (my neighborhood, 220 units, “Built privately with assistance of Federal Housing Administration Insured Mortgages.”); Marshall Courts (353). Listed as Negro housing were Orcutt Homes (148); Harbor Homes (250); Lassiter Courts (350) and Scott Dormitories (250 beds).

The Warwick County listing has: Ferguson Park (1,200 units, “Built by the U.S. Navy in 1940 to care for workers of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company during the expanded naval program. Later transferred to the Federal Public Housing Authority.”); Essex Dormitories (750 beds); Trailer Settlement (250, “Located at 58th Street near Jefferson Avenue by the Federal Public Housing Authority. Removed with the passing of the emergency.”); Beaconsdale (229); Betsy Lee Gardens (186); Sussex Hilton (166); East Hilton (114); North Hilton (107); Hilton Park (144); Maury Place (100); White Oaks (30) and Huntington Courts (200). Copeland Park and Newsome Park (5,200 units) were listed in Warwick and Elizabeth City counties, the latter now the City of Hampton.

Dave: I have recently learned that the part of FP shown south (to the viewer's right) of Military Highway and near the river (lower center of the photo) stood on the site of a WW I Army camp, named Camp Hill. It served the same purpose as Camp Stuart and others in the area: a holding area for troops soon to be embarked on vessels headed for Europe.  I am currently researching my theory that 15 identical bungalows were floated from Camp Hill and placed in my neighborhood ca. 1924 - 1926. The timing is perfect (surplus housing at end of WW I); the geography is perfect (you can't float an intact structure too far across open water safely, but Hampton Roads would be a snap); the bungalows have a very military look about them. (see attached images)

Saturday, March 22, 2008, 5:47 PM Saturday, March 22, 2008, 5:48 PM Friday, May 9, 2008
Image by Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 03/22/08 Image by Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 03/22/08  
- Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 05/09/08
Thanks, Dave!

The bungalows are mostly on Ethel and Lavalette in the aerial photo. You can see how they could easily have been moved from barges and onto their permanent foundations.  Of course, all those arguments apply equally well to Camp Stuart, so I am chasing that possibility, as well.

Norm: In some cases only memories remain of these old neighborhoods. You continue to assemble a unique collection of the history of “Our Town.” Thanks to you and your contributors.

- Norm Covert ('61) of MD and Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 05/04/08 
WOWZERONI!!! Gentlemen, you both continue to astound me. Thanks so much!


The exchange of messages recording memories of Ferguson Park is very interesting. When the interchange at Warwick Boulevard and U.S. Route 17 was built the last portion of the remaining structures of Ferguson Park on the North side of U.S. Route 17 were demolished. I do not recall when this construction took place, but I am sure someone can give us a time frame.

- Joe Madagan ('57) of FL - 05/14/08
I hope so! Thanks, Joe!


Carol:

Thanks to Norm Covert ('61 - of MD) for finding/scanning picture. Comparing it with the one Dave Spriggs ('64 - of VA) submitted sometime ago
that's on your Ferguson Apartments web page. Different angle, but apparently taken on the same 'photo-flight (probably not too many of such flights made in 1941).

     
Fall 1941 Fall 1941
Courtesy of Norm Covert ('61) of MD - 10/01/09 Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 05/04/08

What really stands out is what wasn't there at the time!

No traffic circle, no Military Highway (originally two-lane), no Parkview School, no Camp Hill- or associated military facilities, few businesses on either side of the tracks...on and on. For the most part it was pretty open countryside back then (and, of course not part of NN, per se, but Warwick County).

The photos almost certainly were made in the Fall of 1941. Records indicate that's when Ferguson Park was completed, and completion of Parkview School dates to around the end of 1942 (exact date unknown, but I attended 1st grade at Morrison Elementary for about half of the 1942/1943 school year, and completed that grade at Parkview).

My parents had moved out of the shipyard apartments in late 1940/early 1941 and ventured 'far' into the countryside when they bought a small house at 701 Highland Court. It's still there, and largely unchanged - externally.

- Bill Lee (Warwick HS - '54) of NC - 10/02/09
WOWZERS! Thanks so much, Bill!



I don’t know how many subscribers lived in Ferguson Park, so there may be limited interest in this. In the course of doing some library research for Bill Lee (WHS - '54 - of NC) at the Hilton Library, I had occasion to consult the book of Sanborn Maps. These are very large maps (about 18” x 24”) which were used by insurance companies to assess property risk. They showed construction details and the locations of fire hydrants, etc.

I had completed Bill’s request for an image of a portion of Hilton Village and was just turning pages. Then I came upon a page which showed the entirety of Ferguson Park. I was not surprised that it existed, but I had never thought to look at it before.
 

The image appears here. I shot it at high resolution, so readers may zoom in on it to see much detail … unless you alter it for inclusion in the Newsletter.

   MOI?!? Alter it?!? David, I'm crushed! Why, I would never - well, okay, almost always...

   But not this time.

 
 


A related story:

One of Jane Chambers’ missing CNC/CNU First Decaders was a Charlotte Anderson (no, not the NNHS 63 Charlotte). Her photo (Miss CNC 1963) appears in the book which Jane, et. al. have published, but Jane had not been able to locate her. I was sure that this was the same young lady whose family resided in the apartment beneath my family’s in Ferguson Park, ca. 1953-1954. Charlotte’s widowed mother and my mother had remained in contact over all those years, until my mother became very ill in 2006. The Andersons had three daughters. I located the mother residing near Morrison, and Jane contacted her and, ultimately, Charlotte.

From that contact, I eventually received e-mails and phone numbers for all three daughters. On Sunday afternoon, I will meet with Mrs. Anderson and two of her three daughters (Charlotte cannot attend) at her home. We plan to drive to Ferguson Park and stand where our apartments once stood and recount some old times.

I may have mentioned previously that there was a very special tree located at the end of our building way back then. It was the first tree which I could remember climbing, and, by some miracle, it still stands, despite the leveling of all of FP. This tree is something of a FP shrine for me. Well, it turns out that one of the three sisters has similar nostalgic feelings about that tree, so we plan to go there and let the memories flow.
 

Here is an excerpt of an e-mail I sent to her:

Whenever I go to Newport News, we always ride over to Hornet Circle.  The tree that was at the end of our building is still there so we always go visit the tree from our childhood.

Amazing that you should mention that tree. Indeed, it IS the one which was located at the end of our building. I have a very vivid memory of climbing that tree. The branch, which I jumped up to grab, still exists, but it is now much higher above  the ground. It is the most notable landmark by which to locate our building. I often go there to just stand under that tree and remember. I can still see it all so clearly. I look upon that tree much as I would look upon the grave marker for a dear loved one. As long as it stands, I can feel like Ferguson Park is not really gone.

 
 
Not everyone has the thrill of reuniting with neighbors whom they have not set eyes upon in over 55 years.


- Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 11/26/09

   Ahhh, David, ya made me get all teary-eyed!

   This image I actually enlarged a bit for posting.  And my own opinion is that it doesn't matter so much whether we had such personal memories of each place
represented on our site; we all remember them to one degree or another, and each is important to us all as the Typhoon Family we've become. 

   Thank you so much, Brown Eyes!
 


My mother, Virginia Howard, and father James Wesley Howard lived in 305 Ferguson Park in 1944 through 1949 in Hornet Circle.
Some of her friends were Dorothy and Charles Yost, who had a son named Chick. She was also friends with the Jackie Engle family.

Mother is age 93 and living in Prestonsburg, Kentucky. She has four children; Glenn, Bobby Doyle, Rose, and Alice.

She has fond memories of Bill's Barbecue, picking up fish off the beach, baking rolls and ice tea with Brenda Facin. She recalls going to town on the bus with three children in tow. She recalls Leggett's, Anderson-Newcomb, and LaVogue stores. She remembers the Capital Restaurant downtown. The mothers all helped one another while the husbands and fathers were at work. The park was a wonderful place to gather. The landscaping was beautiful.

She would like to hear from anyone who remembers her.

Her address is:
Virginia Howard
240 Westminister Street
Prestonsburg, KY 41653

- Phillip Price - 02/16/14
WOWZERS! Thanks so much, Phillip!
 


(This page was created on 04/09/03.)


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