Winona Historic District

Norfolk City, Independent Cities, VA

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The Winona Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document: Winona Historic District, 2001, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, DC.


The boundaries of the residential neighborhood occupy approximately thirty-one of the original fifty-five acres conceived by the Leicht Real Estate Company, Inc. in 1909. Winona remains a small, cohesive residential neighborhood just north of Lafayette Residence Park, on the east side of the Lafayette River. The surrounding water, originally known as Tanner's Creek, distinctly forms the north, south and western boundaries of the neighborhood. The borders are further delineated by the streetscape, with Elmere Place forming the eastern edge, Ashland Circle delineating the west and northern boundaries and Holland Avenue and Huntington Crescent constituting the southern edge. By 1910, the suburb was platted eastward to Cottage Toll Road, now Tidewater Drive. However, this area was not originally improved and therefore did not develop at the same time as the neighborhood known today as Winona. The development of Winona was supported by the success of the adjacent Lafayette Residence Park with the implementation of service amenities and the establishment of the streetcar line. Developed during the first quarter of the 20th century, Winona emerged as a suburban community north of the growing downtown area of Norfolk. The neighborhood, catering to upper class patrons, developed with grand single-family dwellings, exhibiting revival and American movement-era styles and forms. The flat tract was landscaped with tree-lined streets, parks and an intricate system of curvilinear roads that complimented the less than one-acre housing lots. The domestic buildings are buffered from the public streets by sidewalks and a grassy median planted with mature shade trees, primarily consisting of large maples. Winona's initial development constituted roughly twenty-four dwellings, all located west of Elmere Place, between the years 1909-1915. Construction was accelerated, however, as the First World War began a trend of housing needs. This created a second phase of development, spurred by the influx of middle-class professional residents, with over 117 buildings constructed between 1916 and 1941. Today, Winona is defined by a variety of architectural styles and building types ranging from early 20th century high-style architecture to late-20th century dwellings, often exhibiting vernacular interpretations of the elaborate styles erected decades earlier. The area making up the Winona neighborhood consists of 160 residential buildings, a pump house, a monument and eighty-seven supporting outbuildings, including three sheds and eighty-four garages.

Prior to the turn of the 20th century, the far northern region of the city of Norfolk was characterized by its distinctly rural and marshy nature. Early building surveys and maps of the city show the area north of the Lafayette River sparsely developed, with random improvements located within large, open tracts of farmland. During the latter decades of the 19th century, when the city began to grow northward, the few farmhouses were demolished, the land tracts surveyed, and suburban plats created. Conceived as a high-class residential suburb, Winona was sited further north than the suburban neighborhoods of the late 19th and very early 20th centuries, adjacent to the newly established Lafayette Residence Park (1902). Research has shown that the property, prior to platting in 1909 as Winona, may have contained a farmhouse or two and various associated outbuildings. Once development began, however, the resources appear to have been razed in favor of grander, more fashionable single-family suburban dwellings sited along the picturesque Lafayette River.

The new subdivision, platted in 1909, was composed of intersecting curvilinear streets that took advantage of the irregular shoreline of the Lafayette River. The design was described as "French" in method, utilizing curved and gently winding streets. The curvilinear avenues created opportunities for small parks where their awkward intersections resulted in spaces that proved inappropriate for housing lots. The developers made a point of retaining the existing trees of the flat landscape, and preserving the natural beauty of the surroundings. The focal point of the neighborhood was the elliptical waterfront formed by the curvilinear nature of Ashland Circle and Huntington Crescent to the west of Norway Place. Tree-lined streets, sidewalks, and a small park improved the neighborhood.

With the 20th century came a related interest in a variety of period styles. Between 1909 and 1915, at least twenty-four dwellings were erected in Winona. Of those, eight exhibited the Colonial Revival style of architecture, while four were Queen Anne, three were Classical Revival and the remaining nine illustrated more vernacular interpretations of these styles. Despite being constructed in the early part of the 20th century, the vast majority of these buildings displayed the high-style ornamentation and structural form fashionable in the latter part of the 19th century. Many of the properties have freestanding garages and sheds associated with them that, although historic, were often constructed at a later date.

Following the heels of America's Centennial celebrations in 1876, the Colonial Revival style emerged in the early 1880s. The style, which borrowed heavily from early American architecture – particularly Georgian and Federal buildings – was largely an outgrowth of a new nationwide pride in the past and a rapidly growing interest in historic preservation. In the early phase, the Colonial Revival style remained the exclusive domain of fashionable architectural firms and was favored for the large residences of wealthy clients. In general, as the style spread to the suburbs and increased in popularity, the detailing and form became increasingly more modest. The stylistic impression presented in the first years of development in Winona epitomizes the suburban expression of Colonial Revival.

The majority of the Colonial Revival houses in Winona were constructed on brick foundations with wood frame structural systems clad with shingles or weatherboard. The roofs, presently sheathed in a variety of materials, historically consisted of numerous, intricate pitches that spurred from the main hip or gable. The forms of the dwellings were typically accentuated by porches, dormer windows, columns, balustrades, wide cornices, transoms and patterned shingles. Excellent examples of the early high style Colonial Revival architectural style and form are reflected in the dwellings at 1436 Huntington Crescent (1909), 1419 Huntington Crescent (1911), and 1520 Holland Avenue (1911). The two-and-a-half story wood frame dwelling at 1436 Huntington Crescent measures two bays wide with a tile roof, inset second story full-width porch and Colonial Revival style door surround. The building is finished with a hipped dormer and Tuscan post supported inset full-width porch.

The dwelling at 1419 Huntington Crescent was built by Winona's original developer Jacob Leicht. The two-and-a-half story brick house is detailed with a full-width one-story porch supported by paired Ionic columns. The hipped roof with overhanging eaves displays a hipped dormer with flared eaves and detailed window tracery.

Similar in form, the two-and-a-half story dwelling at 1520 Holland Avenue is clad in wood shingles on the second story. A rounded-corner wrap porch supported by Ionic columns dominates the weatherboard sheathed first story. The pyramidal roof displays a gabled dormer with a raking cornice and wood shingled tympanum and a side elevation center gable.

Queen Anne was also a building style exhibited in the early development of Winona. Among the attractions generating considerable interest at the 1876 Centennial Celebration in Philadelphia were several English buildings designed in the Queen Anne style, which would prove to be widely influential in America from the 1870s until just after the turn of the 20th century. The style dismissed the impractical Gothic style by emphasizing human scale and domestic comforts. In America, the style found an exuberant expression in wood, and frequently incorporated classical columns and decorative motifs borrowed from our own colonial architecture. Thus, like the Colonial Revival dwellings, the majority of the Queen Anne houses in Winona were constructed on brick foundations with wood frame structural systems clad with shingles or weatherboard. Presently clad in a variety of materials, the roofs historically consisted of a number of intricate pitches that rose from the main hip or gable. The forms of the dwellings were typically accentuated by corner towers, porches, and bay windows, accented with columns, balustrades, and patterned shingles. The dwelling at 1501 Monis Avenue (1909) further illustrates the imposing Queen Anne style popular in Winona. The two-and-a-half story wood frame building presents a wrap-around porch supported by Tuscan columns. Off-center and projecting gables further distinguish this Queen Anne residence. The dwelling located at 1540 Holland Avenue (1910) illustrates a multitude of Queen Anne details. These include the conical roofed corner tower, the wrap-around porch, projecting gable, turned post balustrade and canted bay windows.

The Classical Revival style, also evident during Winona's first stage of building development, was based on the Neoclassical architecture of 18th-century France and England. Popular in America between the 1890s and 1950s, the fashion favored the French Neoclassical, which provided a striking alternative to the ostentatious sculptural ornament associated with the Beaux-Arts style. By contrast, the style was subdued and dignified, although equally monumental in scale. The Classical Revival examples in Winona were constructed in a similar fashion on brick foundations with frame structural systems clad with stretcher bond brick veneers. The roofs, presently clad in a variety of materials, historically consisted of a main block with projecting gabled two-story porticos. The similarly detailed Classical Revival examples in Winona are located at 1432 Ashland Circle (1909), 1440 Ashland Circle (1909) and 1443 Huntington Crescent (1913). The classical two-story Tuscan columned porticos dominate the two-and-a-half story dwellings. The 1432 Ashland Circle and 1443 Huntington Crescent properties exhibit second story portico porches with turned post balustrades on the facade side elevation. The house at 1440 Ashland Circle presents a small balustraded projecting balcony beneath the Tuscan column supported portico. Additionally, this building displays brick quoin detailing. Each example also displays rock-faced stone window lintels and sills.

Construction in Winona picked up in the second decade of the 20th century. The pace of this development in Winona, between 1916 and 1941, was greatly effected by the influx of workers to the port community during the First World War. During this period, 117 buildings were erected, compared to the twenty-four previously built. Respecting the architectural heritage of the planned community, the craftsmanship of the building construction remained prominent. Although Colonial Revival houses were continuing to be built, by this period, house sizes and stylistic features had begun to change with the construction of a significant numbers of smaller, less ornamented houses. Two excellent examples in Winona demonstrate the shift to slightly smaller Colonial Revival styled dwellings with clear Victorian influences — 1504 Holland Avenue (1918) and 1542 Morris Avenue (1918). The two-and-a-half story dwellings strongly resemble the imposing Colonial Revival buildings constructed in Winona's initial building phase, although more modest in scale and detailing. Each has a gable front roof, a molded raking cornice, a full-width one-story porch and an off-center entry with a transom and sidelights. Additionally, the house at 1504 Holland Avenue exhibits a Tuscan columned porch, a tripartite gable peak arched window, and weatherboard and wood shingle cladding. The house at 1542 Morris Avenue is clad in stretcher bond brick veneer, with a weatherboard tympanum and square Tuscan post supported porch.

The Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival style, an adaptation of the dominant Colonial Revival, also began to appear on the American architectural landscape in the first quarter of the 20th century. This Spanish-inspired style reflected a loose adaptation of features often found on Spanish Colonial mission buildings. In vogue into the 1930s, the style was extremely popular in California and Florida, particularly in fashionable neighborhoods and resorts. More vernacular interpretations of the style quickly spread to neighborhoods throughout the country. Built between 1916-1928, Winona exhibits two such influenced designs. The two-and-a-half story tile roofed dwelling at 1509 Ashland Avenue (1916-1920) displays many Spanish influenced details. These include a stuccoed facade, arched windows with wrought-iron grills, shaped parapets, and a similarly detailed porte-cochere and detached garage. Although less elaborately detailed, the dwelling at 1429 Huntington Crescent (1916-1928) is also influenced by the Spanish Colonial Revival style. The wood frame building is clad in stucco with a multi-hipped tile roof.

The architecture of this period soon shifted from the Colonial Revival with the influence of the Craftsman/Bungalow style. Winona's second building phase was clearly dominated by this style, which increased tremendously in popularity during this time nationwide. Seventy-four of the ninety-five dwellings constructed between 1916 and 1941 in Winona were Craftsman in style or Bungalow in form. The one- to one-and-a-half story bungalow, which earlier had mimicked the architectural ornament of the late Victorian period, later displayed the fashionable Craftsman style. Magazines led the way in introducing affordable housing to the new mobile consumers. Among the most influential was Ladies Home Journal, which around 1900 published designs for small model homes — often in chalet and period styles — complete plans for prefabricated frames, specifications for fireproofing, and such novel conveniences as electricity, plumbing, and gas ranges. The Craftsman was responsible for the widespread popularity of the Craftsman bungalow, a typically snug one-and-a-half story house with a wide overhanging roof, a deep, wide porch, and simple interiors with built-in amenities such as cupboards and cozy inglenooks.

Examples of dwellings in Winona erected following this stylish building trend include 1639 Morris Avenue (1919), 1420 Huntington Crescent (1922) and 1519 Morris Avenue (1925). The modest dwelling at 1639 Morris Avenue was constructed illustrating the fashionable Craftsman style architectural trends of the day, including the inset full-width porch supported by tapered post on brick piers, low roofs with overhanging eaves and knee bracket supports, and square-edge wood window surrounds. Also representative of the style is the large central gabled dormer with exposed rafter tails and the wood shingled cladding and similarly styled detached garage.

The one-and-a-half story bungalow located at 1420 Huntington Crescent also reflects the Craftsman style. The weatherboard-clad dwelling is crowned with a large central shed roofed dormer and overhanging bracketed eaves. Influences of the Colonial Revival are also evident in the large paired Tuscan columns that support the full-width inset porch.

The dwelling at 1519 Morris Avenue is also a one-and-a-half story example of the bungalow form. The dwelling is marked by its projecting gables of differing heights and off-center three-quarter-width porch. The building displays a tiled roof and the classic overhanging eaves with knee bracket supports.

Augmenting the bungalow, also popular in residential building of the period, is the American Foursquare building form. Popular throughout the nation, the four-square provided the working and middle class with a larger, more stylish form that lacked the traditional ornamentation. Consequently, the form was cheaper to construct and fit well with an egalitarian society's demand for simple building materials that made no false claims to richness. Additionally, the four-square suited the modern building techniques and materials that ranged from conventional frames covered in weatherboards, shingles or brick veneer to solid brick, cast-cement block, or poured concrete.

Following the ubiquitous form associated with the building's nomenclature, the dwelling located at 1614 Ashland Avenue (1924) is an excellent example of the Craftsman style four-square. The building is characterized by its cubic shape, overhanging eaves, central hipped dormer, and full-width projecting one story porch. Other examples of the four-square form include 1518 Morris Avenue (1923) and 1614 Ashland Avenue (1924).

Other more modest buildings were also erected during this period of infill construction in Winona. Illustrative of the type of housing is the five-bay wide Colonial Revival dwelling located at 1403 Huntington Crescent (1925-1928). The two-story side gable building is constructed of five-course American bond patterned brick. Symmetrically fenestrated, the detailing is limited to the modillion coursed wood cornice, central Tuscan column supported gabled portico, and Colonial Revival inspired fanlight and sidelights.

The one-and-a-half story dwelling located at 1523 Morris Avenue (1930-1945) stands as an example of the Cape Cod inspired dwellings that were also popular in Winona. The modest cottage is a wood framed weatherboard-clad buildings with a central Colonial Revival entry surround. The side gabled building is topped with symmetrically placed gabled dormers.

One of the most distinguished buildings in Winona is the dwelling at 1507 Holland Avenue (1941). The one-story house does not follow the forms and styles established by its neighbors. Rather, the brick veneered building is rectangular in form, with a medieval expression. It displays a medieval inspired vertical board arched single-leaf door flanked by elongated single-light tripled windows. The most distinguishing feature of the dwelling is the crenellated, castle-like parapet and corner towers that stretch across the facade.

Development After 1941

Winona experienced a further lull in residential construction, with just twenty more dwellings and a pump station erected within the original boundaries of the neighborhood after 1941. The fashion of styles and forms of the infill construction during this period was limited, making the dwellings differ architecturally from their predecessors. Each of these dwellings, constructed between 1941 and 1995, is predominately stripped of the previously common applied stylistic detailing. Additional housing was constructed during this period in a similar style, east of Elmere Place, to Tidewater Drive, outside the original boundaries.

The residential buildings constructed in Winona after 1941 were primarily built on the unimproved lots laid out in the original 1909 plat and the revised plat of 1910. Consequently, there was no subdivision of existing lots, and the scenic vistas with pockets of landscaped parks remained consistent with the original design intentions of the land developer. Similarly, the neighborhood had not been flawed by the introduction of commercial or light industrial properties despite the subsequent development of nearby Lafayette Boulevard and Tidewater Drive. Most of this infill construction consisted of small, one-story dwellings, some with attached garages. Based on historic maps, only one dwelling appears to have been constructed on a previously improved lot (1423 Ashland Circle). The two-story dwelling, constructed between 1985-1995, exhibits a change in the architectural design and form of that of the original community with the growing popularity of the attached garage.


Initially developed during the latter part of Virginia's Reconstruction and Growth era (1865-1917), Winona is marked by its architecturally significant early 20th century revival and American movement buildings. Important in Norfolk's development, Winona is an example of the newly established idea of the residential suburb that emerged as the city of Norfolk expanded northward with the advent of the streetcar lines. The original plat was submitted by the developer, Joseph Leicht, president of Leicht Real Estate Company, Inc. in 1909, and extended in 1910. The 55 acre community was laid out specifically to attract middle and upper income residents. The building requirements, extensive services, attractive landscaping and generously sized lots attest to the development company's desire to attract a certain class of people. The resulting suburb expresses the goals and ideals of the original developers. Based on original plat maps of the community, the area was developed over several decades between 1909 and 1941, with the area east of Elmere Place (Elm Place) developing later. The original buildings are designed in a variety of architectural styles and types, including Colonial Revival and Queen Anne as well as later designs and forms such as the American Four-square and Craftsman/Bungalow. The neighborhood is defined by its well-landscaped streets, organized as a series of half-circles (crescents) bisected by north-south streets; and its well-built, detached, single-family dwellings, many supported by free-standing garages. The houses are substantial in size, set on narrow lots with surrounding green space. As a whole, Winona has achieved significance as the product of a distinctive period whose individual components combine to create a distinguishable entity with high artistic value.

The first phase of suburban development in the Winona area began in 1902 under the Lafayette Residence Park Company, which created the residential suburb of Lafayette Residence Park, located just to the south of the land which became Winona. The lack of amenities, the marshy appearance of the property, and its distant location from the center of Norfolk slowed early development. The Church Street streetcar line, running eastward from 26th Street across the Lafayette River, traversed the planned suburb to become the spine of Lafayette Residence Park. Connecting the city center to the seaside resort of Ocean View, the streetcar line made the Lafayette tract easily accessible to downtown Norfolk, and essentially opened the area for suburban development by the first decade of the 20th century. Consequently, the prospects for suburban development brightened and the community of Lafayette began to take shape. With a number of such communities already established, the area of Winona quickly followed suit.

In 1909, the official plat was filed for the newly devised suburb of Winona. Jacob Leicht, one of the original developers of Lafayette Residence Park[2], was president of Leicht Real Estate Co., Inc. Leicht, a German immigrant, amassed a fortune in the sawmill industry in Kentucky prior to development ventures in Norfolk.[3] In 1910, the development company filed a second plat for additional building lots to the east of Norway Place. These lots were not included in the original 1909 plat, but had been outlined for future development. The proposed plan, based on drawings by civil engineer C.F. Petree, depicted the neighborhood's original lot divisions, street layout, and open spaces. Infill of the land was required to raise the level of the marshy lowland for suitable high ground development. The new subdivision was composed of intersecting curvilinear streets that took advantage of the irregular shoreline of the surrounding Lafayette River. The firm of Abbott Morris and Company became the real estate procurers by 1911, with Jacob Leicht serving as the primary agent. By 1912, the neighborhood had tree-lined curvilinear streets, paved with the advertised "Tarvia Macadam" topped with a dust preventative and granolithic sidewalks.[4] In addition, the amenities included a 1,500 foot protective concrete sea wall, telephone, electric light, gas, sewerage, several pockets of parks, a bridge across the creek for convenient streetcar access and a scenic footpath overlooking the marsh at Elmere Place. Across the river was the scenic Lafayette Park, which now houses the Virginia Zoological Park. In 1913, Jacob Leicht became the President of Harrell-Stone-Daughtry Co., Inc., which continued to advertise and sell property in Winona.

In an effort to attract the intended exclusive clientele, Winona was touted as being Norfolk's most beautiful neighborhood, "one of the most picturesque spots in the state."[5] Accordingly, restrictions on housing costs were imposed. The highest prices were for those lots on the waterfront, with the slightly less expensive lots making up the interior sections. By doing this, the company created a larger number of less expensive properties while maintaining the illusion of a "hlgh-class" roomy suburb. In addition, the developers purchased lands immediately surrounding the neighborhood and across the river to preserve the view and to prevent less desirable communities from being able to develop there. Once the neighborhood of Winona was established, however, the developers planned to then develop the surrounding areas in a similar fashion.

From the outset, approximately 300 lots were envisioned for residential development, although approximately 120 lots east of Elmere Place were not originally improved. Of the houses constructed between 1909 and 1915, the first years of the neighborhood's development, twenty-four buildings remain standing today. The pace of development in Winona was greatly effected by the influx of workers brought to the port city on the eve of the First World War (1914-1918). In the years leading up to America's entry into the war in Europe until 1923, a second period of growth existed. Of the first buildings constructed during this second development phase, ninety-five are extant. In 1920, the federal census produced the names of over 235 persons residing in Winona. By 1923, Winona became part of a twenty-five square mile tract that was annexed to the City of Norfolk. The second building phase lasted until the onset of World War II, with only twenty-two additional buildings constructed after 1941.

Winona retains many of its original early 20th century residential revival and American movement buildings, the majority of which were designed by local builders and architects. The earliest houses erected were generally imposing Colonial Revival and Queen Anne style residences built for upper-middle class residents. Construction was originally focused along Norway Place, especially along the pricier waterfront lots. The dwellings, ornamented to the specific tastes of the property owners, were sited on spacious lots with landscaped yards. Each of these large single-family buildings exhibited high-style ornamentation, including wrap-around porches, bracketing, denticulated moldings, sleeping porches, and an array of detailed cladding materials.

By the time residential construction began to take off in the late 1920s, house sizes and stylistic features had begun to change in response to a new clientele. Larger numbers of smaller, less ornamented houses were built in the neighborhood. The dominant styles were modest Colonial Revival dwellings balanced by a significant number of Craftsman-style Bungalows. These later dwellings generally began to house middle-income residents, and exhibited less architectural ornament than the houses erected prior to 1916.

Historical Background

(See Norfolk City [Beginnings])

Winona Prior to Suburban Development in 1909

Prior to subdivision as a residential neighborhood, the land on which Winona, and the adjacent Lafayette Residence Park, would be established was largely undeveloped, surrounded by marshy inlets. The property was located within the boundaries of Norfolk County, located on a peninsula that jutted out into the north side of Tanner's Creek (now known as the Lafayette River).[6] The suburban development of this area of Norfolk began with the advent of Lafayette Residence Park. In the late 19th century, a total of 323 acres of property in this area were owned and occupied by local farmer James H. Johnson. The property was primarily utilized as pastures and light agricultural farmland. In 1885, Johnson had the property surveyed and divided. In October 1890, the principle partners of Myers & Company, an established Norfolk real estate company, founded the Investment Company of Norfolk as a land development firm and bought the property.[7] The Investment Company held the property for less than a year, turning it over to its successor, the New Norfolk Company, on January 26, 1891.

A significant change occurred in the development of this northern suburb with one of the first projects undertaken jointly by the New Norfolk Company and the Norfolk Railway & Light Company. The company aimed to attract residents to outlying areas of Norfolk with the extension of the Church Street streetcar line eastward from 26th Street across the Lafayette River. This line, begun in 1899, traversed the planned suburbs to become the primary mode of transportation for the area. Connecting the city center to the seaside resort of Ocean View, the streetcar line made the suburbs easily accessible to downtown Norfolk. Prospects for suburban development brightened with the establishment of the streetcar line, and communities such as Lafayette Residence Park began to take shape.

Initial Development in Winona (1909-1915)

The City of Norfolk experienced a building boom between 1907 and 1908, just prior to the establishment of Winona. The prominent suburbs located closer to the city reveled in the increased development. However, this citywide period of prosperity was quickly followed by a slump in house construction between 1909 and 1910, just as Winona was attempting to establish itself as the city's finest suburb. Real estate development firms, including those run by Winona's founder Jacob Leicht, attempted to attract residents and halt the building depression by publishing full-page advertisements in local newspapers between 1910 and 1913.[8]

The neighborhood of Winona began to emerge in 1909 when Jacob Leicht, a German Catholic immigrant who came to Norfolk from New York, purchased a tract of farmland along the Lafayette River with the specific intention of turning it into a "strictly high class" residential development.[9] At the same time that Leicht purchased this tract of land, he set aside an adjacent tract of land at the corner of Tidewater Drive and Columbia Avenue for the construction of a Catholic church and school. Leicht apparently envisioned creating a strictly Catholic neighborhood. Indeed by setting aside the land for what became the Catholic Christ the King Church (3341 Tidewater Drive) and School (3401 Tidewater Drive), Leicht encouraged Catholics to purchase houses in the development of Winona to be near their church and school. However, a Methodist Church was soon erected on nearby Luxembourg Avenue in Lafayette Residence Park, which sewed as the impetus for an influx of other religious affiliations to settle in the Winona area.

Plans for the establishment of a residential suburb on the tract were slow to form, in part due to the need for marshland infill and the lack of established amenities. Used as pasturing ground, and for trucking and farming, the land contained "only old, dilapidated farmhouses few and far between."[10] The construction of these building has not been attributed to the New Norfolk Company, nor the previous property owner. Yet, the existence of these vernacular structures initially deterred prospective residential buyers from this area, which was traditionally viewed as uninhabitable marshland. The 1900 federal census for the Tanner's Creek District of Norfolk, which later encompassed Winona, states that most of the residents were African-American originally from Virginia and North Carolina The vast majority of these residents were farmers, many renting their property from merchants. The average household size was five to ten persons. Although these houses were in the Winona area, it does not appear that they were located or, what would later become the subdivision. This is due to the fact that much of the land was extensively infilled in order to make the lots buildable. Additionally, the early houses in the development follow the curvilinear street pattern imposed by the developers, suggesting that they were not built prior to Winona's development.

The original plat of Winona consisted of 55 acres, divided into approximately 300 building lots with a minimum lot size of 50 feet by 100 feet. The residential area was bounded by a combination of curbed curvilinear streets forming the edge of the water and straight streets bisecting them in a north-south axis. According to a 1912 article on Winona, the streets are given a "gentle curve, the principle one, Holland Avenue, following the shoreline, making them much more attractive than if they were straight and cut the tract into squares and rectangles."[11] This same article promised that Winona would, in years to come, "be one of the most attractive home spots in Virginia."[12] The view across the river from the waterfront to Lafayette Park was described at the time as including "a variety of trees and shrubbery, which breaks the skyline, with a well-kept lawn to complete the picture. Seen in the lowering pink tinted light of the setting sun the beauty of this verdant park is beyond description."[13]

With water at low tide "sufficient to float a small yacht or motorboat" Winona was touted in its early years as having the charm of a seaside home, but the convenience of city living.[14] It was advertised that even "every inside lot carries with it all of the waterfront privileges. You can keep a boat, go fishing, sailing or rowing at will."[15] The suburban community was located a block from the city streetcars, which took less than a half-hour to make the run from downtown Norfolk to Winona, with five cars running per hour. Additionally, extensive amenities were available for residents. In its earliest years, Winona was served by telephone, electric light, gas, sewer ,and paved streets. The area was, and remains to be, well landscaped with "trees and shrubs breaking the monotony of the level ground." [16] In an effort to make Winona an exclusive and desirable neighborhood, restrictions devised by the developers were placed on anyone intending to build in the development. In addition to the numerous upgrades and restrictions imposed on the properties to insure a "strictly high class" neighborhood, Winona's promoters did not put the properties on the market until the improvements were in place. It was required, for instance, that no home in the development could cost less than $3,000 to construct, while the waterfront lots had to be improved with houses costing no less than $4,000. Lot prices themselves started in the $800-range and saw a gradual increase in price over time. In addition to these restrictions, the developers purchased a strip of land opposite the river from Winona in an effort to have control of the type of development that could potentially infringe upon the exclusive nature of Winona. This may also have been the impetus for the purchase of the property between Elmere Place and Tidewater Drive, as depicted on the 1910 plats but not originally developed.

The first phase of construction in Winona began as early as 1909 and continued through 1915. The 1910 census, taken just after the establishment of Winona was designated only as the Tanner's Creek District, encompassing a larger area of not yet developed land. As the neighborhoods in this area initially grew, however, and individual neighborhood identities emerged, the cultural and professional make-up of the residents became less diverse. By 1915, a significant number of houses had been erected, including the house that Jacob Leicht built for himself at 1419 Huntington Crescent. This included largely upper-income white neighborhoods such as Lafayette Residence Park and Winona. In addition, residents were lured as "one of the largest and best schools in the county is but three blocks from Winona-combining both high school and Grammar school."" This school, known as the Lafayette Grammar and High School, is located at 3109 Tidewater Drive. Architecturally significant, the 1906 school was designed by Vance Hubbard in the "robust Colonial Revival style, possibly influenced by Virginia colonial mansions."18 Architects Leigh and Diehl later enlarged the school in 1910. It served the community until the 1970s when it was converted into apartments.[19]

The majority of the buildings in Winona's initial building phase, typical of domestic construction throughout the nation, were influenced by the forms, materials, details, or other features associated with the architectural styles that were currently in vogue. In this manner, the original plan and design of buildings in Winona followed a more high-style pattern, with the majority of the dwellings exhibiting the Colonial Revival, Queen Anne and Classical Revival styles. As these new architectural trends were spread from the cities to the suburbs, and later to the rural communities, the styles were modified to accommodate smaller resources, utilizing varied materials that typically reduced construction costs.

Second Phase of Development in Winona (1916-1941)

As Norfolk expanded over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, the city appropriated surrounding unincorporated land, thereby, reducing the size of Norfolk County. Despite this, Winona remained within the boundaries of Norfolk County until 1923, when a large twenty-five square mile tract of platted land was annexed to the growing city. Most of the tract lay north of the Lafayette River, and included the suburbs of Winona, Lafayette Residence Park, Edgewater, Larchmont, Titustown, Meadowbrook, Lochaven, Ocean View, Willoughby, Lenox, Fairmont Park, Ballentine Place, Riverside, Chesterfield Heights, Newton Park, and Campostella.[20] his annexation increased the city's population from an estimated 31,000 to nearly 150,000, and nearly quadrupled the land size. The move to annex was spurred by a desire to portray Norfolk as a progressive city, and the need to acquire a larger tax base. In turn, the city began a program aimed at upgrading the newly acquired suburbs with fire protection services and schools. In 1924, Winona was affected by these measures when Fire Station Number 11 was built across Tidewater Drive, south of Lafayette Boulevard on Verdun Avenue in adjacent Lafayette Residence Park. Fire Station Number 11 continues to function as the firehouse for the area. The Lafayette Grammar and High School (1905 and expanded in 1910) was relegated to a minor role in the Norfolk City educational system shortly after the 1923 annexation.

The federal census of 1920 reveals that the majority of the families living in Winona were native Virginians, or had moved from nearby states such as North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Household sizes ranged from one to seven persons. Many of the larger households included several boarders, an outgrowth of the World War I housing demand. By this period, many of the residents of Winona were solidly middle class. The occupations of these residents indicated that the neighborhood was home to a preponderance of business managers, salesmen, and proprietors. The more moderate families constructing homes during the second building phase included Santo Mirabella, plasterer (1409 Morris Avenue), J.J. Butler, plumber, (1410 Morris Avenue), and R.L. Holland, brick cutter (1218 Morris Crescent), among others.

Despite the influx of middle-class residents, a number of Winona's residents continued to conform to the upper-income profile. Among the prominent residents by 1923, according to the City Directories, were: the neighborhood's developer Jacob Leicht (1201 Huntington Crescent), C.S. Bailey, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy (1415 Morris Avenue), C. Becker, Branch Manager of Burrow Morris & Co. (1206 Morris Crescent), Randolph Bolling, pharmacist (1208 Morris Crescent), C.C. Holland, U.S. Navy (1222 Morris Crescent), J.L. Broudy, Attorney (1101 Ashland Circle), A.T. Bloomer, Assistant Superintendent of E. Knitting Mills (1207 Ashland Circle), D.N. Morris, Manager E.W. Minter Co. (1216 Ashland Circle), E.G. Holzer, Assistant Manager City Gas Co. (1404 Norway Place), and D.W. Miller, Salesman, (1407 Norway Place), among others.[21] Winona continued to grow with the construction of housing, almost wholly constructed in the Craftsman/Bungalow style, primarily on unimproved lots laid out in the early part of the 20th century. Encompassing both single-family and multiple-family housing, the well-established neighborhood possesses many modest wood frame and brick dwellings, dating from the second quarter of the 20th century, that were stylistically integrated to stand alongside the more imposing dwelling houses constructed prior to 1910. By 1928, only 28 lots within the original boundaries were unimproved.[22] In the 1930s and early 1940s, Winona's population remained stable, although eight new dwellings were erected.

With the influx of defense-industry workers to the port city of Norfolk during World War II (1940-1945), many suburban residents, including those in Winona, rented rooms to workers. Edgar Trotter, a lifetime resident of Winona, recounted that "People started to rent out their rooms to defense workers. In the house across the street, they used to say that the beds never cooled off: As soon as one shift came home, the next would go to work. It was a round-the-clock war effort. But in my mind, that's when people started letting their houses go."[23] After the war, a number of the original single-family dwellings were converted for use as boarding houses, twin dwellings, or apartments.

Final Phase of Development in Winona (1942-Present)

Of the 161 buildings in Winona, only twenty-one, located within the original boundaries, were constructed after 1942. The architectural character of this infill construction generally followed the lines of current fashions in middle-class residential housing. This period marks a shift in building trends, which generally consisted of smaller, less architecturally detailed dwellings. At this time, many of the buildings east of Elmere Place were constructed, on lots conceived in the original 1910 plat. This extension of Winona, although part of the original layout, is also architecturally separate from the previously existing community. In addition, this phase of development extends from Elmere Place to Tidewater Drive, which became a major transportation artery and commercial center, further alienating the area from its original conception as a small, quiet, tree-lined residential neighborhood.

By 1944, there were only 20 open lots available for building in Winona.[24] After the close of World War II, residential and commercial communities began to develop at an increasing rate, requiring vast amounts of additional housing. As a whole, the country, and Norfolk, was impacted by the following conditions: an unprecedented rise in automobile use and relative decline of mass transit; the evolution of regional shopping centers; and the presence of the defense community, with a need for additional housing. Buildings constructed during this housing boom were generally without ornamentation. The lack of detailing and grand form, allowed for quick inexpensive construction using readily available materials. This marks a change in the building practices originally established in Winona.

During the 1950s and 1960s, with the growth of Norfolk's suburbs and the decline of the city center, many middle-class inner-city residents began to move to the outlying suburbs. Winona, by this time, was located near the center of Norfolk, and consequently began to lose some of its middle-class residents. As people moved out, the area became more transient and property values began to fall. Working-class residents, both renters and owners, took the place of the middle-class, changing the neighborhood's makeup. As many Norfolk neighborhoods began to suffer from similar circumstances and fall into disrepair, the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority applied for, and was the first to receive funds from, the 1949 Federal Housing Act aimed at rehabilitating neighborhoods. In order to protect other neighborhoods, housing codes began to establish some requirements. Accordingly, every room had to contain a window and that houses be required to have interior running water. Such measures were taken "to protect older middle-class areas such as Ghent, Riverview, Fairmont Park, Brambleton, and Winona from deterioration."[25]

However, in 1978, the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority conducted a preliminary survey of Winona and neighboring Lafayette Residence Park, estimating that approximately two hundred of the eight hundred houses in the combined neighborhoods were in need of extensive repairs. In response, in the mid-1970s, residents of both Winona and Lafayette Residence Park, recognizing the architectural significance and historical heritage of their declining neighborhoods, began to lobby for the establishment of a neighborhood conservation district. This prompted the Norfolk City Council to approve the creation of a 310-acre conservation district covering over 800 buildings in Lafayette Residence Park and Winona in 1979. The conservation district status established maintenance standards that were traditionally stricter than the city's standard building codes, and provided for federally funded low-interest rehabilitation loans for homeowner's whose buildings failed to meet the conservation standards.[26] The City Council noted that the architectural and historic character of the neighborhood is of substantial importance to the residents and to the City as a whole, and is a significant component of the value and quality of the property. Furthermore, Lafayette Residence Park was placed on the Virginia Landmarks Register in 1998 and the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.

Despite its location near Lafayette Boulevard, an adjacent neighborhood transportation route, the neighborhood has escaped the effects of encroaching commercial interests. No commercial buildings are located within the boundaries of Winona. Winona also remains isolated from traffic, in part due to the dead-end nature of many of the neighborhood's streets. Winona, now at the geographical center of Norfolk, has the added advantage of easy access to interstates, downtown, and medical, commercial and cultural areas. In addition, this freedom from commercial intrusion is largely due to the close proximity of Tidewater Drive, which carries the majority of the north-south traffic along with a number of commercial establishments. This area, however, does affect the integrity of the later developed area east of EImere Place stretching to Tidewater Drive.

With the establishment of the conservation district, a significant number of property owners returned to the neighborhood in the 1980s and 1990s, restoring many of the historic building to their original appearance. Today, the community of Winona appears closely as it was originally envisioned by the development company that platted the marshy tract at the turn of the 20th century. It stands as a quiet residential community conveniently located near the city's center. Much of the original well-landscaped design remains intact. A 1985 article boasts that "Some of the most beautiful roses in Norfolk reputedly grow in Winona's gardens. And the section's streets are lined with maple and crepe myrtle trees. Benches along a stretch of Norway Place beckon strollers to stop and enjoy the river's marshes."[27] Additionally, the article praises the work of the once active civic-minded Garden Club that erected a memorial monument to World War II soldiers in Winona's triangular plot in Ashland Avenue.[28]

Following the initiation of urban renewal in Norfolk, interest in revitalizing the city's close-in neighborhoods blossomed. An influx of funds and local interest in the neighborhood spurred resurgence in the community. Professional middle-class residents began to move back to the area, buying and restoring houses. By 1990, the neighborhood consisted of a mostly professional and partly working-class population with a varied ethnic and age makeup.[29] Many of the residences are occupied by second and third generations of the families that originally owned them. Since 1944, five dwellings have expanded to utilize two lots. Therefore only five open lots remain in Winona.


  1. James C. Massey and Shirley Maxwell. 'The All-American Family House: A Look at the Four-square." Old House Journal, Volume XXIII.Number 6, November/December 1995, p. 31.
  2. Arlene Claflin. "Old Houses to be Open in Winona" The Compass. April 27- 28, 1988.
  3. Arlene Claflin. "A Place Out of the Past." The Compass. Real Estate Weekly Insert. No Date.
  4. "Winona" Advertisement in Norfolk Ledger Dispatch, July 1, 191 1.
  5. "Why Not a Home In Winona?" Norfolk Ledger Dispatch, June 21,1913.
  6. Norfolk was established in 1691 with the division of what was then known as Upper Norfolk County, formed in 1639
  7. Norfolk Charter Book 2, p. 66.
  8. These included "Beautiful Winona, Norfolk's New Suburb" Virginian-Pilot, April 9, 1911, "Winona" Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch, and "Why Not a Home in Winona" Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch June 2 1, 1913.
  9. Waterfront Estate Gives Way to Custom-Home Project" Virginian Pilot, March 31, 1990. The article states that some of the original deeds in Norfolk "refer to their lots simply as Mary Ena Baecher's strawberry or cabbage patch." The Baecher's owned one of the grand waterfront estates, which is still standing, located just outside the Winona tract. Known as Baecher Point, the owners raised crops and livestock until the 1930s when portions of the land were sold. This peninsula also featured a number of similar properties, accessed only through Winona.
  10. "Beautiful Lafayene Residence Park," Special Feature, Virginian Pilot, July 9, 1912.
  11. "Winona Offers Ideal Suburban Home Site," Virginian Pilot and the Norfolk Landmark, Sunday, November 3, 1912, p. 22.
  12. "Winona"Virginian-Pilot, November 3, 1912.
  13. Winona" Virginian-Pilot, November 3, 1912.
  14. "Winona Offers Ideal Suburban Home Site," Virginian Pilot and the Norfolk Landmark, Sunday, November 3, 1912, p. 22.
  15. "Why Not a Home in Winona?", Norfolk Ledger Dispatch, June 21, 1913.
  16. "Winona Offers Ideal Suburban Home Site," Virginian Pilot and the Norfolk Landmark, Sunday, November 3, 1912, p. 22.
  17. "Winona" Virginian-Pilot, November 3, 1912.
  18. Calder Loth, Editor. The Virginia Landmarks Register. (Charlottesville,VA. The University of Virginia Press, 1999), p. 346.
  19. The school was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, February 10, 1983.
  20. Thomas C. Parramore, Norfolk: The First Four Centuries (Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1994), p. 31 1.
  21. Hill Directory Company, Hill's City Directory of Norfolk, 1923. Also, the street numbers appear to have changed between 1923 when the City Directory was published and 1928 when the Sanborn Fire Insurance map was published. Therefore, the street numbers stated do not correspond with the street numeration in Winona from circa 1928 to the present.
  22. Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. Norfolk, VA, 1928.
  23. Paul Bernstein, "Lafayette-Winona Gets Restoration Fever," Virginian Pilot/ The Ledger Star, August 26, 1979.
  24. Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. Norfolk, VA, 1944.
  25. Thomas C. Parramore, Norfolk: The First Four Centuries. (University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, 1994), p. 352.
  26. "Lafayette-Winona Gets Restoration Fever," Virginian Pilot, August 26, 1979, Real Estate section.
  27. Debbie Odell, "Winona: Quiet, Graceful Area on the Lafayene," Virginian Pilot, May 25. 1985.
  28. Debbie Odell, "Winona: Quiet, Graceful Area on the Lafayene," Virginian Pilot, May 25, 1985.
  29. April Butler, "Winona, Lafayette Owe Strong Ties to Common Heritage," Virginian-Pilot, September 22, 1990, p. D2.


Bernstein, Paul. "Lafayette-Winona Gets Restoration Fever," Virginian Pilot/ The Ledger Star, August 26, 1979.

Butler, April. "Winona, Lafayette Owe Strong Ties to Common Heritage," Virginian Pilot, September 22, 1990. Bowman, Sam W. Map of Norfolk, Virginia Br Vicinity,Norfolk, VA: Sam W. Bowman, 1891.

"Beautiful Winona, Norfolk's New Suburb." Virginian Pilot, April 9, 191 1

"Beautiful Lafayene Residence Park." Special Feature, Virginian Pilot, July 9, 1912.

Claflin, Arlette. "Old Houses to be Open in Winona." The Compass. April 27- 28, 1988.

Claflin, Arlette. "A Place Out of the Past. " The Compass. Real Estate Weekly Insert. No Date

Gettings, Kathryn A. and Trieschmann, Laura V. "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form: Lafayette Residence Park." August 1998.

Hill Directory Company. Hill's City Directory of Norfolk, Norfolk, VA, 1923.

Loth, Calder, Editor. The Virginia Landmark Register. Charlottesville,VA: The University of Virginia Press, 1999.

Odell, Debbie. "Winona: Quiet, Graceful Area on the Lafayette, " Virginian Pilot, May 25, 1985.

Parramore, Thomas C. Norfolk: The First Four Centuries. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1994.

Sanborn Company. Fire Insurance Maps of Norfolk Virginia, 1928.

Sanborn Company. Fire Insurance Maps of Norfolk Virginia, 1944.

Wagner's Complete Map of Norfolk, Portsmouth and Environs. Cincinnati, OH:The A.C. Wagner Company; 1900.

"Waterfront Estate Gives Way to Custom-Home Project." Virginian Pilot, March 31, 1990

"Winona Offers Ideal Suburban Home Site," Virginian Pilot and the Norfolk Landmark, Sunday, November 3, 1912.

"Why Not a Home in Winona?" Norfolk Ledger Dispatch, June 21, 1913

"Winona" Virginian-Pilot,November 3, 1912.

"Winona" Advertisement in Norfolk Ledger Dispatch, July 1, 1911.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
Ashland Circle • Elmere Place • Holland Avenue • Huntington Crescent • Morris Avenue • Morris Crescent • Norway Avenue • Norway Place

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