Walker's Old Norfolk
By Peggy Haile McPhillips
Norfolk City Historian
Many of Norfolk's west-side neighborhoods such as
Larchmont, Edgewater, Glenwood Park and Meadowbrook
owe their origins to a streetcar line that was laid
the length of Hampton Boulevard from downtown to
Sewells Point in 1906 to carry visitors to the 1907
With public transportation in place for the breadwinner
to travel to his workplace downtown while his family
enjoyed suburban living, a group of local businessmen
purchased about 200 acres in the northwest portion
of Norfolk County in 1906 for residential development,
which they called "Larchmont." They laid
out streets and sidewalks, installed a water system
and engaged realtors T. Marshall Bellamy and J.
Thomas Hough to develop the suburb. Because of
its location, some predicted that the project would
fail. Larchmont was "in the country,"
five miles north of the city - an inconvenient
commute even by streetcar. To entice purchasers,
Mr. Bellamy started his own bus line, the Larchmont
Transit Company, which ran from Commercial Place
downtown to Larchmont for a fare of five cents.
A nickel was known as a "jitney" in those
days, and so the bus was dubbed the Larchmont Jitney.
In an early newspaper ad, Bellamy offered "we
have two automobiles to show you Larchmont. If you
are timid about riding in automobiles, we can take
you on the streetcar in twenty minutes." The
property was divided into 25-foot lots, and owners
were required to purchase a minimum of two lots
so that their houses would not be crowded together.
By September 1908, $200,000 in property had been
purchased in Larchmont and the Ledger-Dispatch newspaper
predicted "the benets of the boulevard will
in the end be so vast to the city's development
that they cannot now be reckoned." By 1912,
64 homes had been built and sold. Apart from Ghent,
no other neighborhood grew so rapidly in the early
days of Norfolk than the suburb of Larchmont.
After World War I, Norfolk was left with a greatly
expanded population of military and civilian war
workers and their families who came here during
wartime and chose to remain. Because of the resulting
housing shortage in existing neighborhoods, the
city annexed nearly 28 square miles of county land,
including Larchmont and much of Norfolk's west side,
Ocean View, Willoughby, Titustown and Wards Corner,
The Ledger-Dispatch might have been looking into
a crystal ball when it predicted that the benefits
of Hampton Boulevard would "be so vast to the
city's development that they cannot now be reckoned."
Just look at the boulevard today!
Return to top