Interesting Facts

Interesting Facts about the North End

The original Cape Henry Lighthouse was built in 1791 at a cost of $17,500.  The new lighthouse, consisting of cast-iron plates backed by masonry walls, was completed in December 1881.

In February 1890, the Cape Henry Park and Land Company was chartered and began acquiring 5,511 acres known as Cape Henry “Desert” for lumber and development, including some cottage sites near the lighthouse and life-saving station.  The company later became the Cape Henry Syndicate around the turn of the century.  In 1933 the Syndicate deeded 1,000 acres to the Virginia Seashore State Association to create Seashore State Park, and then deeded another 2,373 acres to enlarge the park in 1938.  Many old pictures and postcards show the sweeping sand dunes which once lined our entire area.

Virginia Beach has been a popular resort destination since the 1880s, especially once railroad service began in 1883.  By 1902 there were two railway companies transporting visitors from Norfolk to the oceanfront and all the way out to the undeveloped areas of Cape Henry “Desert”.  With the popularity of automobiles, paving commenced in 1924 between Seapines and Cape Henry on what is now known as Atlantic Avenue.  Once paving was completed down Shore Drive from Cape Henry into Norfolk in 1929, motorists were able to travel a similar route as the railways.

During the height of Prohibition, the Old Cavalier Hotel celebrated its grand opening the week of April 4, 1927.  It was considered to have the most luxurious accommodations and was sometimes referred to as “the Queen of the Beach.” The Cavalier Beach Club opened on Memorial Day 1929 and remained one of the biggest employers of big bands through the 1950s, including ones led by Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington.  Adolph Coors, founder of the Colorado-based brewery, fell from the 6th floor of the hotel in June 1929.  Although the circumstances were suspicious, his death was never officially ruled as foul play or suicide.

In 1928, Edgar Cayce opened the Cayce Hospital for Research and Enlightenment on a hill above 67th Street, believing the setting would foster his work of diagnosing illnesses through psychic readings but it closed in 1931.  During World War II the building was used as a hotel and nurses’ quarters.  In 1956, the Association for Research and Enlightenment repurchased the property, and the new building was built in 1975.  It draws visitors worldwide for its educational programs based on Cayce’s readings and psychic research. The A.R.E. has graciously hosted our NVBCL meetings for many years.

Throughout the years the North End has remained a tranquil neighborhood that families have enjoyed for several generations.  Before residential zoning went into effect there were several hotels at the North End:  the Marshalls at 66th Street, the Suntide at 67th Street, and the Sea Horse on 79th Street.  As of today, only two are left:  The Cavalier at 42nd Street, the Ramada Inn at 57th Street.

Members of several area garden clubs joined forces with the State Highway Department and began a major beautification project on January 14, 1953.  By the time it was completed in November 1954, forty-seven blocks along Atlantic Avenue, from the Cavalier Hotel to Fort Story, had been landscaped.  The garden clubs supplied the plants and the Highway Department provided the labor.  The NVBCL continues this tradition today with the assistance of the City of Virginia Beach’s Landscaping Department.

For all you surfers, according to The Beach, A History of Virginia Beach, Virginia, the first man to ride a surfboard on the East Coast was James M. Jordan, Jr. in 1912.  The Hawaiian-made redwood surfboard was a gift from his uncle, Walter F. Irvin, and stood nine feet tall and weighed 110 pounds!


City of Virginia Beach.

Dunn, Joseph.  Virginia Beach “Wish You Were Here”:  A Postcard View of Days Gone By.

Mansfield, Stephen S.  Princess Anne County and Virginia Beach:  A Pictorial History.

Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Virginia Beach Public Library.  The Beach:  A History of Virginia Beach, Virginia.