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Old June 6th, 2016, 08:48 PM   #1
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Portsmouth, VA: Olde Towne, Downtown

Portsmouth is an independent city in Virginia, directly across the Elizabeth River from Norfolk. The population is around 95,000.

Portsmouth was named for Portsmouth, England. The town was established in 1752 by Colonel William Crawford, on his land. Portsmouth became a city in 1858. The United States Navy began a shipyard and seaport here in the 1790s, and Portsmouth has remained a seaport city ever since. During the Civil War, Portsmouth served as the principal port of the Confederate Navy. The first operational dry dock facility was built here. To this day, Portsmouth shares major Naval activity with Norfolk, and the city also has the oldest operational Naval hospital in the United States.

Olde Towne is a neighborhood comprised of several blocks of historic homes, mostly dating back to the 18th and 19th century. The neighborhood is one of the best-preserved neighborhoods in southern Virginia, since it escaped damage from the Civil War, and escaped the ravages of urban renewal. Olde Towne is compared to neighborhoods with similar architectural characteristics in Alexandria, Virginia, and Charleston, South Carolina.

Brooks Row, on Crawford Street. The houses were built in the 1840s, with the yellow house on the left being the oldest, dating back to 1840.

The Hill House, on North Street. The house was built in 1807, and had the Greek Revival portico added in 1820. The house is now a museum.

A house on North Street, built in 1784.

The Pass House, on Crawford Street at North Street. The house was built in 1842, and was named so because the house was used by the Federal adjutant for his general office, and was the place where passes were distributed for residents to enter or leave the city.

A house on Glasgow Street, built in 1785.

Houses on Glasgow Street. The house in the center was built in 1795.

The Grice-Neely House, on North Street. The house was built in 1820, with the main entrance facing Crawford Street. The cast iron porch, with stylized lilies, helped create a second facade.

Houses on North Street.

Ornate detailing distinguishes one of the houses.

A house on North Street, built in 1808.

The Macon House, on Middle Street. The house was built in 1830.

A house on Middle Street, built in 1807.

The Hubbs House, on North Street. The house was built in 1792, and was at one time a stop on the Underground Railroad.

The Macon Hotel, on North Street. The hotel was built in 1855, and was the first resort hotel in Virginia. The hotel was used as a hospital by the Conferedates during the Civil War.

A house on North Street.

Houses on North Street. The house in the center was built in 1845.

The Borum House, on Middle Street. The house was built in 1867.

The Nash-Gill House, on Middle Street. The house was built in 1880.

The Gloucester apartment building, on Middle Street.

A house on Middle Street at Glasgow Street, built in 1857.

The Old Towne Inn, on Middle Street. The bed & breakfast was built in 1885 as a house for Joseph Bourke.

The Nivison-Ball House, on Middle Street. The house was built in 1780, and was originally located at Crawford & Glasgow Streets. It was moved to its present location in 1869.

The Colonial Apartments, on Middle Street. The structure was built in 1838 as an Odd Fellows Hall, and was converted into apartments, with a floor added, in 1910.

A house on Middle Street, built in 1859.

A house on Court Street.

A house on Court Street, built in 1775.

A house with an ornate wrought-iron porch on Court Street.

Granite brownstones on Court Street.

Houses on Dinwiddie Street.

The Col. Dempsey Watts House, on Dinwiddie Street. The house was built in 1799. Chief Black Hawk was entertained here in 1820, and Henry Clay was entertained here in 1844.

The Richard Dale Monument, in the median of Washington Street. The memorial was dedicated in 1917 to Dale, a Portsmouth native who was one of the six original Commodores of the U.S. Navy.

A house on Washington Street, built in 1789.

St. Paul's Catholic School, on Washington Street. The school was built in 1891.

St. John's Episcopal Church, on Washington Street. The parish was founded in 1848, and the church was built in 1897. The 1907 Tiffany stained glass window is belived to be the largest ever made by the company.

Houses on Hampton Place.

A house on London Street.

A house on Middle Street, built in 1875.

The old Sub-Station 2, on Middle Street. The substation was built in 1906, and is now a condominium.

A view of the Fort Norfolk neighborhood of Norfolk.

"The Hiker", a memorial to Spanish-American War veterans, along Crawford Parkway. The statue was dedicated in 1942.

The United States Lightship 101, the "Portsmouth", at the foot of London Street. The ship was built in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1916, and was christened the "Charles". It was stationed at Cape Charles, Virginia, until 1924. It later was stationed in Delaware, from 1926 to 1951, becoming the "Overfalls". In 1951, it was stationed at Stonehorse Shoal, off of Massachusetts, until decommissioned in 1963. The ship was donated to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum in 1964, and was given the name "Portsmouth", after its final home.

The Harbor Tower apartments, on Harbor Court. The highrise was built in 1983.

The NAS Norfolk Naval Shipyard, from North Landing Park. In the distance are some of the crossings of the South Branch of the Elizabeth River.

The view of Norfolk, from North Landing Park.

Downtown is a neighborhood just south of Old Town. The neighborhood is centered on High Street, the main east-west axis. Downtown thrived as a railroad, shipbuilding, and shipping center. Downtown has increasingly been included as part of Olde Towne, due to the historic nature of the neighborhood, and the benefit of tourism dollars channelling into Olde Towne.

A view of Norfolk, from the ferry landing near High Street.

Buildings of Downtown Norfolk. In the center foreground is the beige brick BB&T Building, built in 1899. To the left of the BB&T Building is the U.S. Customhouse, built in 1859. The highrise in the back is the Dominion Enterprises Building, built in 2007.

The Elizabeth River Ferry operates between High Street, and North Landing, in Portsmouth, and the festival marketplace in Downtown Norfolk.

Looking up the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River at the BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair site.

Looking up the Elizabeth River, to the industry in Chesapeake.

The U.S.S. Kearsarge, in the Elizabeth River. The battleship was christened in 1993, and is still in active use.

In the park along the Elizabeth River is the 1896 first-order Fresnel lens from the second Hog Island Light, built in 1896. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1948, and the lens was given to the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, where it stayed until 2004, when it was moved to its current location.

The Seaboard Building, on Water Street. The structure was built in 1894 as the passenger terminal and offices for the Seaboard & Roanoke Railroad. It served as Portsmouth City Hall from 1958 to 1980, after the railroad moved to Richmond.

The Admiral's Landing Condominium, on Water Street. The highrise was built in 1996.

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum, on Water Street by the dock slip at High Street. The structure was built in 1919 as the Norfolk County Ferries Maintenance Building. It was converted into the museum in 1963.

The Towne Bank Building, at Crawford & High Streets. The office building was constructed in 1974.

The Col. William Craford (a.k.a. William crawford) statue, at High & Crawford Streets.

Buildings on High Street.

The Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, on High Street. The museum was built in 2004.

The Children's Museum of Virginia, on High Street. The museum was established in 1980, and moved to its present location in 1998. The building was renovated in 2011.

The old Levin Brothers Clothing building, on High Street. The store was built in 1930.

The New Kirn Building, on High Street. The structure was built in 1914.

The Confederate Memorial, on Court Street. The monument was dedicated in 1893.

Buildings on Court Street.

Court Street Baptist Church, on Court Street. The church was built in 1903 and is home to the oldest Baptist congregation in southeast Virginia.

The Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center, on High Street. The Greek Revival building was originally the Norfolk County Courthouse, and was built in 1846.

Next to the old courthouse is the former Norfolk County Clerk's office.

The Commodore Theatre, on High Street.

The theater was built in 1945 in the Streamline Moderne style.

The Commodore Theatre is the last active movie theater in Downtown Portsmouth.

The Dinwiddie Hotel, at High & Dinwiddie Streets. The hotel was built in 1945.

Monumental United Methodist Church, on Dinwiddie Street. The church was built in 1876.

The Old Town Apartments, on High Street. The structure was built in 1914 as a YMCA.

The Professional Building, at High & Washington Streets. The highrise was built in 1929.

St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church, on Washington Street. The church was built in 1897.

The Bangel Law Building, on Court Street. The structure was built in 1898 in the Second Empire style, and served as Portmouth's city hall. It was remodeled in 1949 in a classical style.

First Presbyterian Church, on Court Street. The church was built in 1877. Down the street is the Portsmouth Public Library, built in 1909 as a post office.

Trinity Episcopal Church, on Court Street. The church was built in 1830, with the tower added in 1893.

The old Central Methodist Episcopal Church, on County Street. The old church was built in 1880, and is now a Knights of Columbus hall.

The Portsmouth Civic Center, on Crawford Street. The courthouse was built in 1970.

The Pythian Castle, on Court Street. The structure was built in 1898, using a polychromatic facade.

An old house on Court Street, built in 1870.

Central Methodist Church, on Washington Street at South Street. The church was built in 1903, in a polychromatic style popular in the late 19th century.

Houses on South Street.

A house on South Street.

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Old June 7th, 2016, 05:33 AM   #2
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Gorgeous photos!! Never knew Portsmouth had so many beautiful old buildings. Seems to me that Portsmouth is the most overlooked and underappreciated of Virginia's larger cities.
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Old June 9th, 2016, 07:22 AM   #3
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Portsmouth is one of several overlooked and underappreciated Virginia cities...Lynchburg, Roanoke, and practically all of the Tidewater cities seem very much under the radar. Although I've never had a reason to visit Portsmouth, it's not surprising to see the historic homes and buildings there. There are many colonial/historic cities and towns along the southern Atlantic coast that were very important in their day and some are still thriving - but are just a bit under appreciated.
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portsmouth, virginia

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