04/26/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/26/2023 11:09
Virginia Beach's latest neighborhood to be listed by the National Park Service as a National Register of Historic Places historic district is Woodhurst, a post-World War II suburban development with homes designed by the Norfolk architectural firm of Oliver and Smith in the contemporary or mid-century modern style. The Woodhurst historic district consists of 81 single-family homes and is located across from the Cape Henry Collegiate school on Mill Dam Road.
Unlike most historic district nominations funded by the Virginia Beach Historic Preservation Commission, which are identified through architectural surveys, the neighborhood was brought to the Commission's attention by a Woodhurst resident. Jerry Teplitz read an article about two neighborhoods in the city that had been funded for nomination projects and wondered if Woodhurst might qualify. He contacted City staff to inquire about the criteria for National Register listing.
City staff reviewed the neighborhood upon Mr. Teplitz's request and were surprised and excited about its unique character and thought it could qualify. After some additional research, they recommended it to the Commission, which agreed that it was a designation worth pursuing. A little over two years later, the Woodhurst Neighborhood Historic District is listed in the National Register.
"Woodhurst is a wonderful, intact example of mid-century residential architecture and it fits perfectly with the state's 'New Dominion Virginia' initiative to survey and recognize the Commonwealth's more recent architectural landscape," said Commission Chair Sharon Prescott.
The neighborhood was platted in 1955 by Frank Whitehurst and construction was completed by 1960. The designs by Oliver and Smith included four models for the neighborhood. The development comprises 21 examples each of models 1, 2 and 3, and 18 examples of model 4. The various models were distributed consciously among the lots in the neighborhood with the result that no like models were built side by side.
In an interesting twist, a 1955 newspaper article noted that old bricks salvaged from buildings demolished for the construction of the Norfolk-Portsmouth (Downtown) tunnel were used in fireplaces and carport walls in some homes in the Woodhurst development. Despite the contemporary nature of the design, the old materials seem to fit well in this mid-century modern style community. Interior features in Woodhurst's homes included vaulted ceilings with exposed beams, floor-to-ceiling brick fireplaces, Philippine mahogany paneling in living rooms, cork floor tiles in kitchens, and wooden parquet flooring in dining and living rooms.
The nomination was prepared by the firm of Debra McClane, Architectural Historian. Listing in the National Register is honorary and does not impose restrictions on property owners or guarantee preservation of historic resources.
An example of the Model 2 design in the contemporary, mid-century modern Woodhurst Neighborhood Historic District, now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
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