A story 400 years
in the making
The Story of Olde Wythe began over 400 years ago. It should be noted that the name Olde Wythe did not come into being until 1993. Prior to that Olde Wythe was part of the much larger populated area called Wythe. It should also be remembered that Wythe was once part of Elizabeth City County that was created in 1634 and became extinct in 1952 when it was incorporated into the City of Hampton. The Timeline along the bottom of the page denotes some of the events that have shaped the character of this neighborhood.
How to use this site
We’ve created this website to serve as a repository for Olde Wythe’s rich history. Here, you can learn about the past of our beloved neighborhood and, since history is made every day, we encourage you to help us build on the past by uploading your own photos and stories.
For a chronological history click through the timeline below.
When the English settlers passed by Wythe on their way to Jamestown, members of the local Algonquin Kecoughtan Indian tribe had already been living in the local area for centuries.
Lord Delaware, Governor of the Virginia Company, named the harbor now known as Hampton Roads, “The Earl of Southampton’s Roadstead” in honor of Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton.
The lands of the Kecoughtan Indians were seized by English settlers and became known as the Borough of Kecoughtan.
Representatives from Kecoughtan attended the assembly of the first body of representative self-government in America.
The name Kecoughtan was changed to Elizabeth City, honoring the eldest daughter of the English king, James I.
The first free school in America was established in Elizabeth City County.
Elizabeth City County was named one of eight original shires or counties in Virginia.
The town of Hampton was established as the county seat of Elizabeth City County.
The British Parliament established Hampton as the customs port of the lower James River District.
The town of Hampton was laid out and named in honor of the Earl of Southampton.
The severed head of Blackbeard the Pirate was hung on a pole at the entrance of the Hampton River as a warning to other pirates.
George Wythe, signer of the Declaration of Independence and designer of the Virginia state seal, was born in Elizabeth City County.
The port of Hampton became the headquarters of the Virginia Navy during the Revolutionary War.
Painting by SIdney King depicting the arrival of the English at Keocoughtan on April 30. 1607.
The First Parish Church, built in 1610, was located near Church Creek, east of La Salle Avenue.
1800S to 1890s
During the War of 1812 British forces landed near Indian River Creek in Wythe and then proceeded to the town of Hampton where they terrorized its residents for several days.
Regularly scheduled steamboat service operated between Hampton and Norfolk.
Hampton citizens ratified the vote to secede from the Union.
Local Confederate troops burned the town of Hampton to keep Federal forces from confiscating buildings there.
Confederate MERRIMACK and Union MONITOR ironclads battled in the Hampton Roads off Olde Wythe’s shores.
Union General Samuel C. Armstrong opened Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, an early school for black freemen which later became Hampton University.
Newport News Point in Elizabeth City County was selected to be the eastern terminus for the Chesapeake and Ohio [C & O] railroad.
After the C & O line was completed from Richmond to Newport News, branch tracks were built to Hampton and Phoebus.
The Virginia General Assembly transferred property at Newport News Point from Elizabeth City County to Warwick County in order to bring about the establishment of the new city of Newport News.
The Chesapeake Dry Dock and Construction Company, predecessor of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company and later Northrop Grumman, began to build and repair seagoing boats.
The first trolley car route in the area ran between the town of Hampton and Old Point Comfort.
The Newport News Cemetery Company began its Greenlawn Cemetery on land near the headwaters of Salters Creek in Wythe.
Third Street [Kecoughtan Rd], a mostly dirt road, ran from Salters Creek to the middle of what became Catalpa Avenue.
The first electric streetcar operated between Newport News and Hampton on tracks running along present-day Victoria Boulevard.
The Hampton Roads Golf and Country Club extended from Ammonate Avenue [Hampton Roads Ave.] to East Avenue.
The Hebrew Cemetery, whose entrance is now on Kecoughtan Road, was established by the Adath Jeshurun congregation of Newport News.
Telephone service was available in Hampton and parts of Wythe.
The Daily Press, the oldest local newspaper, began with four hand-set pages.
On June 25, 1823, 2,500 British troops landed near the home of Daniel Murphy. After an initial victory, they went on to sack Hampton, which outraged the country and helped to mobilize public opinion against them.
Drawn from balloon observation, this image depicts ships assembled in defense around Fort Monroe and Fort Calhoun.
The flood of self-freed slaves passing through Hampton for refuge at Fort Monroe, which they referred to as “Freedom’s Fort.”
The CSS VIRGINIA, an ironclad converted from the wooden frigate USS MERRIMACK, destroying the USS Cumberland on March 8, 1862, precluding the legendary battle between the USS MONITOR and the CSS VIRGINIA.
Artist’s rendering of the house at 3629 Chesapeake Avenue, the oldest house in Olde Wythe. Legend has it the George Armstrong Custer watched the battle of the ironclads from this porch.
1900 to 1930s
The newly formed Hampton Roads Traction Company began running its trolley car line through Olde Wythe along the waterfront.
A newly built iron bridge across Salter’s Creek connected part of Wythe with 25th Street in Newport News.
During the Jamestown Exposition held in Norfolk, the Old Point View Hotel and the Bay Bank boarding house on the Boulevard (Chesapeake Ave.) provided lodging for visitors, especially those who wished to reach the exhibitions by taking a special ferry which loaded at the foot of Manteo Avenue.
The Virginia state legislature appropriated $25,000 to establish the Virginia School for Colored Deaf and Blind Children on property near Gloucester Street in Wythe.
The Riverview community, located near Electric Avenue [Victoria Boulevard], was the most populous part of the Wythe District with 49 dwellings, 3 stores, a small school, and 2 churches.
A new, two- story, brick George Wythe Elementary School opened on Claremont Avenue when small schools in the area consolidated.
New Stone Road, the first major hard-surfaced road between Hampton and Newport News, was built by the U. S. and state governments and named “The Kecoughtan Road” in an effort to preserve the name of the Indian village which had once stood in the area.
Regular ferry service began from Manteo Avenue to Norfolk and was available until 1914.
President Woodrow Wilson played two rounds of golf at the Hampton Roads Golf and Country Club.
Several small Wythe communities located within the boundaries of Salters Creek, the Hampton Roads, Pear Avenue, and 5th Street obtained permission to incorporate as a town with the name of Kecoughtan.
The area’s first suburb, Indian River Park development in Wythe, was laid out and lots were sold.
Langley Field opened as an Army aviation school and an experimental station named the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics [NACA].
Two elementary schools, Armstrong on Matoaka Road and Woodrow Wilson on Kecoughtan Road, opened to accommodate the growing school population of the Wythe district.
The Riverview and Wythe fire companies, both organized in 1910, merged under the name Wythe District Fire Department.
The first free county library in Virginia, Charles H. Taylor Memorial Library, opened.
The Town of Kecoughtan was annexed by the city of Newport News, leaving Elizabeth City County with a new western boundary at Pear Avenue.
A violent hurricane destroyed the trolley tracks along Chesapeake Avenue.
George Wythe Junior High school opened on Claremont Avenue.
Wythe area residents considered their property being annexed by either Newport News or Hampton.
The Wythe Shopping Center on Kecoughtan Road was the first large commercial development in the area.
This 1887 photo shows the Armstrongs, a prominent family who were and integral part of Wythe history. From left: General Samuel Armstrong, founder of the Hampton Institute, Richard, Mary Frances, Kalani, Edith, Mrs. Armstrong, Sr, Matthew, Louise and William.
This house at 1600 Chesapeake Avenue, was built in 1888 by J.C. Robinson, captain of a fishing boat and later seafood entreprenuer, for his bride, Lila.
Captain Robinson added a crab packing factory in 1910 at 1610 Chesapeake Avenue. The building was a prominent landmark until it’s destruction in 1954.
William Rouse , who opened the first Ford dealership on the Lower Peninsula, becamse teh principle stockholder in the TIMES-HERALD and the DAILY PRESS.
A fleet of 16 new battleships dispatched by President Theodore Roosevelt during the 1907 Jamestown Exposition.
1940s to 1980s
A new fire station was built for the Wythe District Fire Department on Kecoughtan Road.
Street railway service was discontinued throughout the area, and bus service took over.
The War Memorial Stadium opened on Pembroke Avenue with the Brooklyn Baby Dodgers as the home team.
A plan for a consolidated peninsula to be called “The City of Hampton Roads” was rejected by Hampton, Phoebus, and Elizabeth City County.
When a new George Wythe Junior High School opened on Gloucester Street, the old junior high building on Claremont Avenue became George Wythe Elementary School.
Residents in Elizabeth City County, Hampton, and Phoebus voted to consolidate and adopt the name of Hampton for the new city.
Hampton’s first television station, WVEC, UHF, Channel 15, went on the air.
Hurricane Hazel caused considerable damage along Chesapeake Avenue.
The last scheduled passenger train rolled over Hampton tracks.
Ferry service to Norfolk ended when the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel opened.
The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics [NACA] became the National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA] when it began training the Mercury astronauts.
Dixie Hospital, predecessor of the present day Sentara Careplex, relocated from East Queen Street to Victoria Boulevard.
The Wythe Recreation Association built a swimming pool on the site of the demolished 1909 George Wythe Elementary building.
Heavy winds and snow were part of the Ash Wednesday storm whose abnormally high tides caused much damage in the area.
Desegregation of Hampton Public Schools took place in accordance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
All Hampton schools were completely integrated in both teaching staff and classroom enrollment.
Dixie Hospital, originally named for the horse its founder rode, had a name change to Hampton General Hospital.
The city of Hampton earned All-American City honors.
Wythe started its successful Neighborhood Watch program.
A year-long celebration was held when the city of Hampton observed its 375th anniversary.
Advertisement for Bill’s Barbecue, a favorite eatery and local icon, was located at the corner of Kecoughtan Road and Pennsylvania Avenue. It was one of the first restaurants to feature curb service.
The distinctive red and white Citizen’s Rapid Transit bus, circa 1955.
1980s to Present
The Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge Tunnel opened, providing an alternate route to the south Hampton Roads area.
Greenlawn Cemetery was included in the National Register of Historic Places.
The overlook parking areas along Chesapeake Avenue were transformed into family friendly seating areas.
Hampton’s Master Plan for the Wythe business district was approved by the city and called the “Kecoughtan Corridor”.
Traffic calming measures were built on Chesapeake Avenue and new street signposts were installed throughout the neighborhood.
The Virginia School for the Deaf, Blind and Multi-Disabled at Hampton, originally named Virginia School for Colored Deaf and Blind Children, celebrated its 100th anniversary.
Armstrong School, Hampton’s oldest public school building in operation, celebrated its 85th anniversary.
Ground was broken for a new K-8 school site on Victoria Boulevard.
Powhatan Parkway street sign.