The Resource Old Dominion Land Company Business Records, 1881-1949
- Old Dominion Land Company Business Records, 1881-1949
- Inclusive dates
- Business records -- Virginia | Newport News
- Ledgers (account books) -- Virginia | Newport News
- Land companies -- Virginia | Newport News
- Real estate development. -- Virginia | Newport News
- Old Dominion Land Company
- Local government records -- Virginia | Newport News
- Newport News (Va.) -- History -- 19th century
- Newport News (Va.) -- History -- 20th century
- Old Dominion Land Company Business Records, 1881-1949, consist of eight volumes that document the development of property in Newport News, Va. Occasionally information appears relating to the development of property in other Virginia counties such as Gloucester, Norfolk, New Kent, and Rockbridge
- Record of Contracts and Deeds No. 1, 1881-1901; Record of Contracts and Deeds No. 2, 1894-1916; Contracts No. 3, 1901-1919; Contracts No. 4, 1919-1947; Record of Deeds No. 3, 1901-1927; and Record of Deeds No. 4, 1927-1949, list the contract and deed information of land in development. Information found in each entry include contract and deed numbers, date of contract and deed, name with whom contract made, grantee named in deed, lot and block numbers, consideration, cash payments, and the length of contract
- Sales Book 2, 1883-1906, and Sales Book 2a, 1883-1907, record lots purchased from the land company. Arranged by block number, information found in each transaction includes date of purchase, lot number, name of purchaser, town and state location of the property, price paid, and taxes owed
- Biographical or historical data
- During the late 1860's financier Collis P. Huntington's attention was brought to the plight of the debt-ridden Chesapeake and Ohio Railway which stretched, at that time, from Richmond to Covington, Virginia. In 1869, he and a number of others formed a syndicate to purchase controlling interest in the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. Among the men were the brokers Harvey Fisk and Alfrederick Hatch; William Aspinwall, founder of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company; and A.A. Low, clipper ship designer and builder. During the reorganization meeting of the stockholders held on 26 November 1869, Huntington was elected President of the company and General William C. Wickham, Vice-President.
- Tradition has it that Huntington had first visited the sleepy village of Newport News in 1837 when he was a traveling salesman. As early as 1870, agents began to quietly purchase land between Richmond and Newport News. They negotiated with local residents or bought auctioned land in James City, York, Warwick, and Elizabeth City Counties. Among those involved with the land purchases were William Aspinwall, his agent Edmund Wilkes, and his attorney William S. Peachy, Sr. Other major purchasers were Alexander B. Green and Collis P. Huntington. In 1872, the decision was made to locate the Atlantic terminus of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway in Newport News. Eight years later on 19 October 1880, the Old Dominion Land Company was chartered to secure railway right-of-ways on the Peninsula.
- Company officials were: Collis P. Huntington, President; Frank S. Storrs, Secretary; Isaac E. Gates, Treasurer; Theodore Livezey, Superintendent; C.B. Orcutt, Agent; Collis P. Huntington, Abiel A. Low, A.S. Hatch, James H. Storrs, and John Stewart, Directors. Harvey Fisk was also a member of the Land Company.
- In 1881, Huntington and the land agents turned over their purchases to the Land Company for $1.00 per parcel. By June of that year, the Land Company had acquired approximately 17,000 acres of land on the Peninsula.
- Railroad construction on the Peninsula began in 1880, and the first trains traversed the completed tracks on 16 October 1881, during the centennial celebration of the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. That same year Eugene E. McLean of New York City made the map that determined the eventual layout of the city. Dated 29 April 1881, the map was placed in the records of the Warwick Company Courthouse and lost some time later. McLean was Chief Engineer of the Land Company for many years.
- In 1882, the Land Company began work on the Hotel Warwick which was formally opened on 11 April 1882. Destined to play an important part in the development of the city, the hotel was a popular refuge for travelers to the area for decades thereafter. Located on the banks of the James River close to the hotel were a casino, bowling alley, and pleasure pier which provided a great deal of entertainment to both residents and visitors. Until the mid-1930's, the Hotel Warwick's affairs were directed by many of the same officials who were in charge of the Old Dominion Land Company. On 12 November 1935, the Land Company and the hotel were consolidated.
- Fulfilling its purpose of developing and selling real estate in Newport News and other areas of the Peninsula, the Land Company distributed a circular to attract new residents and industries in 1883. It had already begun to establish a number of community facilities and by the early 1890's had given land for and/or assisted with the creation of a Union Chapel, Newport News' first bank (the Bank of Newport News, later called the First National Bank of Newport News), the Warwick County Courthouse, schools, and other vital commercial, civic, and government units. Later land donations included the site for Riverside Hospital, the public library and Huntington Park. Either by direct contract or through the influence of the Old Dominion Land Company, a number of piers were constructed near the terminus of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. In 1883, several passenger piers were built for ferry and steamship companies serving Newport News. Pier "A," at the foot of 25th Street, was designed as a landing place for building supplies and other material and produce for local grocers and businessmen.
- In 1886, a shipyard was established as a repair plant for vessels calling at the port. Later to be named the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, it was built on land owned by the Old Dominion Land Company and directed by some of the Land Company officials including Huntington, Gates, and Orcutt. Land Company officials recognized that a sufficient supply of fresh water was essential to the development of a city. In the late 1880's, they were the moving forces in organizing the Newport News Light and Water Company which remained closely associated with the Land Company from its inception on 8 August 1889, until it was purchased by the city of Newport News in 1926. In 1918, the Light and Water Company entered into an agreement with the United State Government to develop facilities to meet the needs of the expanding population.
- Land Company officials were intimately involved in the incorporation of the city. Correspondence in the officers' files reflect a real concern for the proper timing of incorporation so that it would best benefit the company. On 16 January 1896, Newport News became a first-class city and withdrew from Warwick County.
- In 1900, Collis P. Huntington died unexpectedly. His interests were passed to his widow Arabella Huntington, his adopted daughter Princess Clara von Hatzvelt, his adopted son Archer M. Huntington, and his nephew Henry E. Huntington, who later married Arabella. Henry Huntington continued his uncle's association with the Land Company. During the second half of the 1910's, the United States Government entered into a number of leases and purchase agreements with the Land Company. Newport News was a major point of embarkation during World War I, and thousands of soldiers were stationed at Camps Hill, Stuart, and Alexander- all built on land owned by the Old Dominion Land Company. After the war, most of these lands were put to other, more peaceable uses.
- In 1918, the Land Company established Jefferson Avenue Park, a housing development for black residents. During the 1920's, the Land Company embarked on a major program of residential building- the Huntington Heights subdivision- and also engaged in certifying several other subdivisions including Park View. On 21 October 1925, a group of Newport News men purchased the entire Huntington interests as well as those other stockholders. Throughout the decade of the twenties, there appeared to be a thrust within the company as well as the community to improve the quality of living in the area.
- In 1932, nearly all of the income-producing properties had been sold, and Land Company officials were finding new markets for unimproved property. By 1939 the company was liquidated, and the Hotel Warwick was the only valuable piece of property remaining. During the 1940's, the predominance of transactions carried out by the Land Company concerned the Hotel Warwick. Liquidation was completed in 1948.
- [History copied from A Finding Aid to the records of the Old Dominion Land Company/Newport News Public Library System, Z1346 .N55 F49]
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