Hilton Village: An enduring sense of place in Newport News for 100 years

Established in 1918, Hilton Village, in Newport News, Virginia, was the first public housing project built in the United States. Spurred on by Newport News Shipbuilding President Homer Ferguson, it was created to house shipyard workers during World War I. The village was the city’s first planned community and its first National Register of Historic Places district. Hilton’s distinctive cottage-style architecture, reminiscent of an English village, is one of the first examples of the New Urbanism and Garden City movements in America. Along the tree-lined streets are homes and shops that might have been pulled from a Dickens novel. The vision of the leaders who crafted Hilton VIllage-the shipyard’s Ferguson, Harvard University town planner/landscape architect Henry Hubbard, and world-renowned architect Francis Joannes-Remains apparent to this day.

In the months after America entered World War I in April 1917, few places saw such dramatic change as Hampton Roads.

Though already home to the Army’s biggest coastal fort and the Navy’s most vital shipyard, the region was reshaped by the birth of pioneering Langley Field in Hampton and a mammoth new naval base in Norfolk.

Then there was the new Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation in Newport News, which drew hundreds of thousands of soldiers from across the country for the war in Europe, plus thousands of additional officers, men and women to run the giant staging camps and keep the pipeline flowing.

More change swept through the Norfolk Navy Yard — which added not just one but three new dry docks — and the nation’s largest private yard in Newport News — which ramped up to meet contracts worth $2 billion in today’s dollars.

“Newport News was just so fortunate that all these visionaries showed up and made something like this happen,” says John V. Quarstein, author of two new books on the groundbreaking streetcar suburb.

“These were forward-thinking people — all trying to create what they saw as a perfect place to live.”

Wartime crush

Just how many people swarmed over Hampton Roads during WWI may be impossible to calculate, but some sense of the overwhelming tide of soldiers, sailors, airmen, shipbuilders and construction workers can be seen in the following numbers:

Nearly 800,000 men moved through the staging camps of the HRPE, with some 275,000 passing through Camp Stuart in Newport News alone — making it the nation’s biggest single embarkation camp and requiring the labor of more than 6,000 builders before some 300 barracks were completed, the Daily Press reported.

Still, the pioneering project at Hilton ranked as the first of its kind — and it quickly became a benchmark for other wartime housing developments across the nation.

Cited in later years by both the SAH and the American Planning Association — which named it one of the nation’s “10 Great Neighborhoods” in 2009 — it joined the state and national landmark registers in the late 1960s.

Read more of the article here!

Psst, I’m a real estate agent.

This post was authored by local resident and REALTOR, John Womeldorf. John is known around town as Mr. Williamsburg, for both his extensive knowledge of the Williamsburg/ Hampton Roads/ Richmond VA area and his expertise helping buyers and sellers in the local real estate market.

If you are a homeowner searching for someone innovative to sell your home I would love to share my thoughts on marketing. You can read some of the stories I have written about the homes I have sold here.

Additionally, I have helped hundreds of folks find their dream home/ community and would love to help you find yours in Williamsburg, Yorktown, New Kent, VA Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Isle of Wight Poquoson as well as Richmond.

You can reach me by phone at 757-254-8136 or email  John@MrWilliamsburg.com

I look forward to serving your real estate needs!


About mrwilliamsburg

I love Williamsburg !
Being “Mr. Williamsburg” and starting my web site in 2004 has been a great way for me to help people looking for homes for sale, communities and an “insider knowledge.” of the area.
Turned out I was onto something. Because I offer in-depth information and up-to-the-minute blogging, even international clients have found me. One couple, moving back to the States from France, told me that a post I wrote blog about grocery shopping in Williamsburg convinced them that Williamsburg was the place to be, and that I was the best source by far that they found on the web.
I’m happy to say that I hear similar comments from many of my clients looking for homes throughout Williamsburg and Hampton Roads.
I grew up in Virginia Beach, Va, After attending college, I worked at a number of positions including manager of a land development and construction company and business manager of a cut flower business that we grew in sales from $300,000 to $15 million (we were supplier to Whole Foods and one of the first cut flower suppliers to Costco).
In 2004, it seemed like a good time to simplify my life. I moved my family from Annapolis to Williamsburg. I went into real estate with Liz Moore and Associates, and was one of the initial agents when Liz opened her Williamsburg branch.
My sons Zach and Josh attend Lafayette High School and Hornsby Middle School and are crazy about sports and the outdoors.
I feel lucky to be living the dream, and saving two to four hours by not driving on the DC beltway every day. So, I can now spend my time with family while concentrating on learning — and sharing — information about living in Williamsburg.
In real estate, no two people or transactions are the same. Everything’s a challenge, and I’m rewarded every time in close a transaction and have the opportunity to see the smiles on clients’ faces.
Please email or call me for assistance with any real estate questions about the area
John@MrWilliamsburg.com or 757 254 8136