Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hilton Village

Vintage photos courtesy of the Newport News Public Library System

I've always thought Hilton Village in Newport News was a lovely old neighborhood. When I heard that the American Planning Association had selected it in 2009 as one America's Great Places in the neighborhood category, I decided to make a return visit.

Hilton Village was constructed between 1918 and 1921 to provide housing for workers at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company (the neighborhood is several miles north of the shipyard; trolley cars used to carry the workers to their jobs). The 200 acre neighborhood is a collection of Jacobethan (below), Colonial Revival, and Dutch Colonial houses. The village is modeled on the design principles of late 19th century Garden City movement begun in the U.K. by Sir Ebenzer Howard and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by landscape architect Henry Vincent Hubbard and architect Frances V. Joannes. Looking at a aerial plan of the neighborhood, you can see how much smaller and varied the lots are compared with the surrounding areas (click the picture below for a larger view).
One interesting aspect of the design are the enlarged right of ways on the side streets. In these sections the central group of houses are set back, adding spatial variety to the gridded streets. Unfortunately, several of these areas seem to have become congested parking areas instead of green space.
The main entrance to the neighborhood is through the Hilton Village shopping area along Warwick Blvd. The commercial buildings there are not much different from the houses.The prosaically named Main Street runs through the middle of the neighborhood, providing a gracious entry. Along Main Street there are nice 20' deep right of ways between the sidewalk and the street which allows room for large, handsome trees to grow.
Main Street ends at Hilton Elementary School, though it's kind of shame. An open view out to the James River would have been stunning.
Behind the school is a small playground and fishing pier. What an incredible view those kids have!
From the edge of the water you can see the James River Bridge.
Back in the residential area, the Jacobethan architecture provides a nice break from the somewhat oppressive colonial revival style we have here in tidewater Virginia. Asymmetrical window arrangements are a common sight on the English-style houses.
There's a nice mix of housing types and sizes throughout the neighborhood. Many of the houses are duplexes.
And it's nice to see the old driveway strips instead of big concrete pads everywhere.
Congratulations to Hilton Village for winning the Great Places award! It's nice to know that the spirit of this type of development lives on in places like Port Warwick. Now if we can only get those trolleys running again!

You can see additional photos of Hilton Village here.

8 comments:

Les said...

I have a co-worker who lives there and loves it. I will forward this post to her. I may have recognized some of her plant material on your Flickr link.

How It Grows said...

I'm curious which yard it was...

Janet said...

Hilton Village is a nice area, we bought my rocking chair at a furniture store down there almost thirty years ago. When you get to that part of Warwick you want to park and walk up and down the street to take in the charm. Love the vintage photos.

Phillip said...

What an interesting neighborhood. I agree with you about the school - an open view of the river would have been wonderful.

Les said...

Her yard was the one on Ferguson with the Amsonia and the Iris.

How It Grows said...

I suspected as much. There were a lot of plants at that house.

Steve said...

It's great to see these beautiful photos of Hilton in your post and throughout your Fiickr account. I'm in the Charlotte NC area now, but I grew up near Hilton on James River Drive in the 50's and 60's. I attended kindergarten at St. Andrew's and was a member of Hilton Methodist Church. I swam off of the Hilton pier and went to the Village Theater's childrens' matinees every summer. I'd visit the monkeys behind Dee Howell's Hilton Garage and fed carrots to the ponys behind Milton Adams' Warwick (Hilton) Amoco. I bought caps, toys, and candy at Roses Five & Dime and had a savings account at the Bank of Warwick. Yes, I know Hilton Village.

I have long admired the architecture of the homes and businesses in Hilton. How fortunate we are that they were built to last. The photos of these structures bring back great memories, but your shots of the flowers, shrubs, and trees are the icing on the cake! Gorgeous. Thank you so much for sharing.

.09 Acres said...

I have lived in Hilton Village since 2009. I LOVE the entire feel of the neighborhood. I'm currently in the process of transforming my tiny back yard into a productive vegetable and fruit garden. I also wonder how many people in the neighborhood originally gardened when the development was constructed in 1918-1919.