Historical Reminiscing with Robert B. Hitchings
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I love old houses. If walls could talk, just think what stories they could tell about the former owners. Ever since I was a small boy I liked old houses. Maybe it's because I was always around these old special gems, especially in Norfolk County and Princess Anne County.  

One of the first old houses that I remember from my childhood was at the intersection of Shore Drive and E. Little Creek Road.  The house was located at 4236 E. Little Creek Road and belonged to Mrs. Addie Burman Henna (1884-1961). Close by there was a service station called Henna Gas station and just a block away was a large trailer park. This old house stood tall, an old white country farm house. At the four corners of the house were bricks 25 to 30 inches tall which looked as if they were holding up the structure. I was amazed at the crawl space underneath the house where the chickens would run and hide. As a little boy, about the age of 5 or 6, I can remember making that Sunday drive with my parents or with my Aunt Elvie Butt to visit family and friends.

To get to Virginia Beach from Norfolk we would go by way of Little Creek Road and Shore Drive. On the way back my aunt often wanted to stop in at this old two-storied country house, then an antique shop.  The house was leaning and the floors boards were large and uneven. On the first floor there were fireplaces on each side of the house and I remember there were several glass counters with small items in them. And a very large brown spinning wheel sat in the corner. Looking back, I remember old hurricane lamps with their tall clear glass chimneys sitting in the 1st floor windows. The old house had a screen door that banged when customers would enter and exit. I can't remember seeing a sign of the store’s name. It was just an old antique junk shop.

While my parents or Aunt would go inside, I was outside sitting on the old wooden steps all alone. But I remember playing with the chickens who lived under the house. They would come out and run back in. Oh, how I enjoyed playing with the chickens. And sometime little chicks would pop in and out too.

This land was part of Princess Anne County. In 1958 Norfolk annexed 13 acres of land that included the Amphibious Base which was once the family estate of former Governor Littleton Tazewell (1774-1860). The estate or farm was called Sand Hills because of the small sand dunes. In WWII, the U. S. government needed this land. Captain Johnny Parks Tazewell (1920-2016), my neighbor across the street, told me the family did not get the top price for the land due to the great depression and the war. Many old Princess Anne County families in this area are named in my family tree. I am related to the Tazewell, Whitehurst, Gray, Stringers and the Ironmonger families. And this is the section of Princess Anne County where they lived. Family cemeteries were on the farms close by.

When the real estate developers were laying out East Beach in 2010, they needed names for the new streets. I was contacted by a representative of Judy Boone Reality Company. At the time I was working at the Sargeant Memorial History Room, Old Kirn Library, and was able to supply them with not only a map of the land, but family names that occupied this farm land so long ago. I do not think they used any of these names for streets.

When I am reminiscing about my adventures as a child, this old farm house and the Sunday trips to Virginia Beach have always stood out.  I am amazed that within a few short years after the 1958 annexation, businesses moved in and the area grew rapidly. The house I was so fond of as a child disappeared one day and was gone forever.

Today a modern a 7-Eleven convenience store stands in its place.

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Robert B. Hitchings is a seventh generation Norfolk resident, graduating with an Associate's Degree in Biology from Old Dominion University and BA in history from Virginia Wesleyan University. During his studies he was awarded a scholarship at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, England, and he was an exchange student at Brooks-Westminster College, Oxford, England. From 1999-2014 he worked as head of the Sargeant Memorial History Room at Norfolk Public Library, and since then has headed the Wallace History Room at Chesapeake Public Library. He is also the President of the Norfolk County Historical Society, and for six years was a columnist for The Virginian-Pilot. Robert may be reached at nchs.wallaceroom@gmail.com