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Pasture Point Historic District

Hampton City, Independent Cities, VA

The Pasture Point Historic District‡ was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

The Pasture Point subdivision is a late-19th, early-20th century residential neighborhood, located along the Hampton River, in Hampton, Virginia. The subdivision was first platted in 1885 following construction of the C&O rail line, which ran along the modern day route of Interstate-64. It included the entire Pasture Point peninsula and was bounded generally by the Hampton River on the north, east, and south, and Washington Street on the west. Early development in the subdivision was moderate and focused principally along the waterfront nearest Hampton on present day Marshall, Center, and Syms Streets. It wasn't until the expansion of the electric street car system to the subdivision in 1891 along Pembroke Avenue, Washington Street, Elm Avenue, and Marshall Street, that development of the area began at a steady pace.

Over time, the subdivision evolved into an eclectic blend of high-style homes built on large properties along the streetcar lines to smaller post-World War II infill housing, to large modern homes along the water. Because of the presence of the rail corridor and later I-64, the two sides of the neighborhood developed in differing patterns and each acquired their own unique identity. The southern area developed quickly and primarily as a result of the streetcar, while the northern area was slower to develop and did not undergo significant construction until the mid-twentieth century. The northern area has also been subject to more intensive modern development and renovation lending it a lower historic integrity than the southern area which has remained much intact from its early period of development.

Based on the developmental evolution of the subdivision and physical changes brought about by construction of the interstate, the Pasture Point Historic District is defined as that area of the initial subdivision serviced by the electric streetcar that lies south of the Interstate and east of the west side of Washington Street, which best convey the association to the streetcar and retain a dense grouping of homes from the streetcar era. [See: Streetcar Suburbs, 1888 to 1928] During the peak period of construction in the historic district, building styles representative of nationally important architectural traditions of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, especially the Revivals and late Victorian styles were prevalent. The more elaborate illustrations of these styles are located along East Pembroke Avenue, as it was a main road along the electric streetcar line, and along Syms and Marshall Streets, which have waterfront lots fronting the Hampton River. More modest vernacular versions of traditional house types such as craftsman and kit homes were also interspersed throughout the district. The most common building forms were two-and-a-half-story, three-bay, side-passage plan frame buildings on brick foundations with decorative shingles on the second stories and gable ends and elaborate sawn work adorning porches.

The historic district contains a diverse collection of popular late nineteenth and early-twentieth century architectural styles. The older properties in the historic district are Italianate style homes, mostly constructed in the 1880s and 1890s. During the 1890s Victorian style homes were popular throughout the historic district and include several Queen Anne influenced properties, as well as several examples of Free-Classic, Stick, Folk Victorian, and Shingle styles. From the 1890s until the 1910s Colonial Revival style homes began to fill in the remainder of the historic district. Additionally there are a few late nineteenth and early-twentieth century examples of Revival and American Movement influenced homes including Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Bungalow-Craftsman, and Prairie School styles. There are several dwellings which exhibit multiple architectural characteristics with no one style being more prevalent than the other. Non-historic infill, of which there is little, includes Neo-Victorians, Neo-Colonial Revivals, and Ranches.

Many of the Italianate homes in the historic district are located on East Pembroke Avenue and Center Street. Typical Italianate homes in the district are two-story, three-bay, side-passage, rectangular plan dwellings with low-pitched hipped roofs. Many of the houses have wood siding, two-over-two double-hung-sash windows, and one-story front porches with hipped roofs. One such example can be found at 326 Elm Avenue. Built in 1905, the structure is a two-story, three-bay, side-passage, rectangular plan dwelling with a low-pitched, hipped roof. The building is of frame construction with a raised brick foundation and wood siding and includes a one-story front porch with a hipped roof and asphalt shingles. The first floor windows off the porch are original floor-to-ceiling double-hung sash, while the remainder are two-over-two double-hung sash with painted trim.

Many of the Queen Anne homes are similar in plan to the Italianate style homes but vary in decorative detail such as spindle work inside the gables and porches. Elm Street contains a heavy concentration of modestly sized Queen Anne homes while larger variations can be found along East Pembroke Avenue and Marshall Street. An example of a typical Queen Anne is located at 329 East Pembroke Avenue. Built ca. 1890, the structure is a two-story, three-bay side passage dwelling that sits on a raised brick foundation. The building has a cross-table wing with a full pediment on the gable end with brackets and modillions. A wrap-around porch with turned columns, sawn brackets, and a tin roof adorns the front of the dwelling.

Rarer Victorian architecture found throughout the district includes Shingle Style, Second Empire, and Stick-Eastlake. At 316 Elm Avenue, there is an 1895 Shingle Style house that is of wood frame construction with a raised brick foundation clad in blue cedar shingles. This two-story, three-bay, side passage L-plan dwelling has a cross gable roof and the gable ends have a boxed cornice with partial returns. There are two interior chimneys along the slope and a one-story, three-bay, partially screened front porch. The two-story addition to the east and one-story enclosed porch on the west each have blue cedar shingles matching the main house.

A Second Empire dwelling, ca. 1880, is located at 317 Marshall Street. The structure is a two-story, two-bay, side-passage dwelling with a mansard roof. The slate roof has a patterned shingle design and pedimented gable dormers with full returns and the box cornices on the lower eaves have a dentil decoration. The windows are one-over-one double-hung sash flanked by shutters and there is a one-story front porch with a gable roof supported by two Tuscan columns.

Located at 307 East Pembroke Avenue is an example of a Stick-Eastlake building clad in wood siding with dark green trim. Constructed in 1903, the structure is a small, frame, one-and-a-half-story, five-bay, side-passage dwelling on a brick foundation. It has a gable roof, with a short cross gabled wing in the front, a box cornice, and exposed rafter tails. The windows are two-over-two double-hung sash and the front door has a hood supported by brackets. Additionally, there is a front projecting bay window on the south elevation and a rear one-story shed roof addition.

Colonial Revival style homes began to fill in throughout the historic district following the turn of the 20th century and tended to be larger, exhibiting a central passage and two-and-one-half-stories. While still in keeping with the character of the earlier homes in the district, the Colonial Revival style homes mostly all have full width porches and wood siding. Built ca. 1910, 320 Marshall Street is a good example of a Colonial Revival style home in the district. It is a two-and-one-half-story, three-bay, center-passage dwelling with a clipped side gable roof and a hipped-roof dormer, a boxed cornice, and a slate covering. The house is clad in wood shingles, and has one-over-one double-hung sash windows. There is a full front porch and a two-story rear gable-roof wing with a one-story shed addition.

Several dwellings throughout the historic district demonstrate multiple architectural characteristics with no one style being more prevalent than another. One such example is 607 Washington Street, which is a two-story, two-bay, side passage dwelling with a hipped roof covered with slate shingles. The house is of frame construction with a raised concrete slab foundation and vinyl siding. The windows are six-over-six double hung sash and there is a projecting portico entry porch supported by square columns.

The Pasture Point Historic District retains a high degree of historic integrity from its early development as a late nineteenth and early-twentieth century residential streetcar suburb. The district retains a strong sense of place with circulation patterns and building fabric exhibiting little change since the initial development of the area. Unlike the northern portion of the original Pasture Point subdivision, the southern area that comprises the Pasture Point Historic District has only fifteen primary resources constructed post-1919 and is not encroached upon by nearby modern commercial and/or residential development, nor is it isolated from Hampton and its associated development influences by the raised I-64 corridor. Within the district, buildings from the period of significance exhibit a high degree of integrity of materials, workmanship, and design due to an overall lack of substantial modifications, additions and alterations. Those alterations or renovations that do exist are typically non-intrusive and do not significantly detract from the character or form of the original buildings. Common alterations throughout the district include window and roof replacements and reclad exteriors, all of which are reversible. A few porches have been enclosed and some small additions appended, but the homes still retain their original character and appearance. While a few garages and sheds have been added, overall since the rise of the automobile, the district has experienced very little change in its architectural character and setting.

The Pasture Point Historic District is a characteristic late-nineteenth through early-twentieth century suburban residential neighborhood that was influenced greatly by the rise and eventual decline of the streetcar. Although the subdivision was originally platted around the C&O Railroad by a subsidiary land company, its growth and development is primarily related to the introduction of the streetcar network through its boundaries. As a whole, the district consists of a contiguous group of historic homes and properties that retain a high degree of integrity and character defining features from this early era of Hampton and is a significant reminder of its streetcar history.

As a plat by the C&O Railroad's subsidiary Old Dominion Land Company, the establishment of Pasture Point is directly related to the broader history of the area that shaped the Tidewater from the late nineteenth century through the present day. In general, the railroad was considered one of the most important factors influencing tidewater Virginia's economic development and was the stimulus of much of the large industry that continues to drive the region. The railroad continued to play an important role in the history of the neighborhood through the mid-twentieth century as it was the location of the primary Hampton train station and the gateway to Old Point Comfort, Buckroe Beach, and the numerous hotels and resorts that played a significant role in the rise of tourism to the area.

Besides the depot, however, which has since been demolished, very little construction or development associated with the railroad occurred in the district. A number of commercial buildings were constructed near and around the depot, however all but one of these too has been demolished. The majority of development in the historic district, particularly residential, can be more directly attributed to the coming of the streetcar in the early to mid-1890s. By 1894, two lines travelled through the district, or at least the southern portion thereof. One extended from the train depot to the main line between Hampton and Newport News, and the second from downtown, leading through the district to the beaches.

In the years following the construction of these lines, Pasture Point developed quickly with dozens of grand homes lining its streets and avenues; many of the largest immediately adjacent to the streetcar route along Mallory (Pembroke Boulevard). Pasture Point became a popular address in Hampton by the 1890s, epitomizing the streetcar neighborhoods of the era and reflecting the economic segregation inherent in these developments. While working class families populated other neighborhoods around town, such as the West Hampton area, the grand homes on large lots along Pasture Point's streetcar lines and its closest side streets was home to many of the wealthiest and most influential residents in the city.

Further reflecting the dominance of the streetcar to the development of the neighborhood was the relationship between its owners and the banks supplying the capital for mortgages and home construction. Many loans in the area had initially been provided by the Bank of Hampton as well as later by the Schmelz Brothers Bank; both of which were owned by the Schmelz brothers, who were also part owners of the Old Point Railway & Electric Company.

The streetcar, and therefore the steady development of Pasture Point were brought to a substantial slowdown by the end of World War I and the 1920s. Streetcar ridership began to decline as early as the mid-1910s when the automobile slowly emerged as the preferred means of travel. By the end of the war and the economic boom of the 1920s, more middle- and upper-class families than ever were able to afford an automobile and many Hampton residents began to move further out of the city into new suburbs being developed at the time, such as those in the present-day Old Wythe area, across the Hampton River, and further north.

By that time, much of Pasture Point, particularly the southern portion of the neighborhood, had already been developed, and the slowdown simply meant that the large Victorian-era properties were not infilled by later homes. It also meant that the northern portion of the neighborhood across the tracks did not become densely developed until the later wave of post-World War II construction took place. As such, the blocks and homes of southern Pasture Point retain a high degree of integrity from the streetcar-era and comprise an intact group of turn-of-the-twentieth-century properties and development in the City of Hampton.

As an area defined by its many grand homes built along the streetcar lines and their adjacent streets, Pasture Point represents a significant collection of late-nineteenth through early-twentieth century Hampton architecture. The neighborhood developed as a typical streetcar suburb reflecting the pattern of the wealthy moving to larger lots in these new subdivisions outside of the city centers. As such, the neighborhood came to host some of the city's most prominent professionals, managers, and shopkeepers between the last decade of the nineteenth century and the second decade of the twentieth century. On many of these large suburban lots, particularly those facing the streetcar route, property owners had large, grandiose homes designed in the latest styles built.

A number of the earliest homes built in Pasture Point were constructed by the local carpenters, brothers Charles Taylor and William Holtzclaw. The Holtzclaw Brothers operated a construction company and lumberyard in Hampton in the Reconstruction era, and as was common in the late-nineteenth century, the company eventually advanced from construction to building design. Over time, they became well-known for designing and building several notable local buildings throughout the city and its surrounding areas, including the main building and barracks of the National Soldiers' Home, the Virginia State School of Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Children, the Bank of Hampton, the YMCA Building in Hampton, the first Chamberlin Hotel at Old Point Comfort, and the Masonic Lodge on Queen Street in Hampton, as well as remodeling Hampton's Courthouse in 1910. Residentially, they are credited with a home for Harrison Phoebus, Roseland Manor, in 1887; the Cedar Hall residence for Frank Darling; and several homes throughout the Pasture Point neighborhood.

Their first home in Pasture Point was designed by Charles T. Holtzclaw for his own home, and was an elaborate Queen Anne featuring a balcony recessed under a third floor gable with decorative shingles at 322 Marshall Street, constructed in 1890. After the death of his wife, Emma Jane, he later remarried and in 1905 built a new house at 316 Marshall for his new bride. Charles T. Holtzclaw also built 346 East Pembroke Avenue in 1890 for his son Earnest, who was the chief electrician for the Newport News and Old Point Railway and Electric Company. On the next block stands 419 East Pembroke Avenue, which is believed to have originally been the back wing of the Holtzclaw family house at 322 Marshall Street, but was removed in the late 1890s and placed on a separate lot. Other homes credited to the Holtzclaw Brothers in Pasture Point include 315 Marshall Street, a larger, very symmetrical version of 316 Marshall; and 333 Syms Street. The latter, which was built in the 1880s in a style predating the Queen Anne, was laid out like a "T" lying on its side.

A large number of other high-style Victorians, Italianates, Colonial Revivals, and other eclectic styles, as well as a variety of simpler, more vernacular interpretations of these styles and forms that can not be attributed to the Holtzclaw Brothers or any other known architects are also located throughout the neighborhood. This includes several homes that are believed to be various models of kit homes. The proximity to the railroad for easy shipping likely encouraged the usage of such homes. Homes believed to be models include the Aladdin-Sheffield at 300 Creek Avenue, a Sears-Gladstone at 115 Pembroke, and a Sears-Crescent or Wards-Mt. Vernon at 811 Marshall. The historic district also includes a good number of vernacular homes that augment the character of the neighborhood by providing local influences to blend with the characteristic appearances of the nationally popular high-styled residences.

Overall, the extant collection of architecture in the Pasture Point Historic District represents a wide variety of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth styles, forms, and types that reflect not only the developmental history of the neighborhood, but the region, and streetcar suburbs in general. For the most part, these homes remain in good condition and retain a high degree of character-defining features and historic integrity. As such, this contiguous group of residences represents one of the most intact turn-of-the-twentieth-century neighborhoods in Hampton and remains as a significant reminder of this period of architecture in the city.

Adapted from: Jill Dowling with Robert J. Taylor, Jr. and Danielle Worthing, The Ottery Group/Dutton & Associates, nomination document, 2012, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
Center Street • Colbert Avenue • Cooper Street • Creek Avenue • Eaton Street • Elm Avenue • Hampton Roads Beltway • Interstate 64 • King Street North • Marshall Street • Pembroke Avenue East • Poplar Avenue • River Street • Route 351 • Syms Street • Washington Street • Wine Street