The History of Park View
Laid out in a gridiron street plan typical of the period, Park View was established between 1888 and 1892 as a direct consequence of the extension of the first trolley line to the area northeast of City of Portsmouth. The majority of houses in the neighborhood date to the two decades following Portsmouth’s annexation of the area in 1894, and represent a full range of the varied architecture of the period. Among the districts approximately 310 structures are outstanding examples of the Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, American Foursquare, and Bungalow styles.
The development of Park View as the city’s earliest streetcar suburb is closely related to the city’s emergence by the early 20th century as one of Virginia's major shipping, industrial, and population centers. Portsmouth and its adjacent city Norfolk provided a base of operations for seven steamship companies and nine railroad lines that served the commonwealth’s growing abundance of peanuts, fertilizer, coal, lumber, tobacco, fresh farm produce, and cattle for export. The city’s major industrial efforts centered on the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. During the era of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, which saw the advent of modern steel ships, naval construction accelerated. Civilian employment at the shipyard increased from 700 in 1888 to 11,234 in 1919. The population of the city climbed from 12,000 in 1886 to 33,190 in 1910, making Portsmouth the third largest city in Virginia. During World War I, the population rose to 57,000.
Prior to this change in the economic and social life of the city at the end of the 19th century, the area known today as Park View, was outside the city in rural Norfolk County and consisted of several large tracts of farm land. The western sector bounded by Scotts Creek, the Elizabeth River, and the present alignment of London Boulevard belonged to Thomas Owens. The eastern sector flanked by the Naval Hospital and known as Alabama, belonged to the Hatton family. With the installation of the first streetcar line to the Naval Hospital in 1888, the Hatton family sold a parcel of land to Portsmouth's Commissioner of Revenue, V. Butts, and his partner, C.S. Sherwood, a prominent Portsmouth jeweler. The successful subdivision of this first tract of land into town lots by Butts and Sherwood encouraged the Hatton and Owen families to act in their own right as land developers.
Between them, three additional tracts were subdivided and sold by lots between 1888 and 1892. What remained of the original farm tracts was purchased and subdivided by three land companies in 1892. By 1902, all of Park View had been laid out in its present grid pattern of blocks with streets averaging 60 feet in width and lots averaging 29 feet by 105 feet. First called Park Avenue and later Park View, the new residential community enjoyed the finest public amenity in either Portsmouth or Norfolk, the 75-acre park of carefully landscaped groves, drives and promenades surrounding the 1830 Naval Hospital building.
Information provided by the Port Norfolk and Park View Design and Rehabilitation Guidelines.