Today I found the Sargeant Memorial Room at the Norfolk Public Library. If you read any books on local history, there is a very good chance that several of the photos will have "Courtesy of the Sargeant Memorial Collection" noted somewhere nearby. I asked about their Princess Anne County photo collection, and the guy at the desk pulled four file folders out of a drawer and handed them to me! I spent the next 30 minutes or so sifting through old photos.
One set of photos caught my eye immediately, because they answered a nagging question that has occupied my mind since my interview with Mary Ann Harrison Smith. She said she attended Kempsville Elementary during her grammar school years (1942-) and that the building had "real pretty white columns in front". I attended Kempsville Elementary in 1978 & 1979, and there were no "real pretty white columns!" I also knew that my Kempsville Elementary only dated back to the 1960's, so she couldn't be referring to that building. I knew Kemps Landing School was older, but Kemps Landing doesn't have real pretty white columns either.
The Virginia Beach Public Schools website has a short history of the old Kempsville Elementary and it seems to indicate that the building that eventually came to be known as Kemps Landing, built in 1941, was the original Kempsville Elementary. But what about the pretty white columns? Mary Ann did say that her old school was torn down; so did they tear down a previous school with white columns when they built Kemps Landing? But if that is the case, it would have been torn down before Mary Ann was old enough to attend.
This is when the Sargeant Memorial Collection clarified everything for me:
|Photo courtesy of the Sargeant Memorial Collection|
There is an inscription on the back of this photo, "Kempsville Grammar and High School; 10-7-31". YES! There are COLUMNS! In fact, there are two buildings here, side by side, and they both have columns. Which one is the grammar school? Which one is the high school? The photo doesn't specify.
|Photo courtesy of the Sargeant Memorial Collection|
This is a photo of the building on the far left in the first photo. This photo is inscribed, "Kempsville Grammar and High; 10-9-31". Not much clarification there, but I did notice something: take careful note of the windows on the left...
|Photo courtesy of the Sargeant Memorial Collection|
Here is the building we are all familiar with, because it still exists today. The photo is inscribed, "Kempsville High School; 5-14-42". My generation knows it as Kemps Landing (not the magnet school; before the magnet school); but whatever you call it, there it is. Now, please note the building to the right of the new high school: see the windows? It looks like they did not tear down the old schools when they built the new one.
This photo has been floating around the Internet for a couple of years now, but I saw it most recently in a Facebook post:
It is a postcard of Kempsville High School, but there is no date. I was always under the impression that the two buildings to the right were the old jail and a municipal building -- but it is crystal clear now that all three buildings are school buildings. The two buildings on the right are the buildings in the photographs above.
With just a little more research, I found this photo on the Virginia Beach Public Library website:
Now we know which building was the grammar school and which was the high school! The last graduating class was in 1941, and the doors opened at the new high school later that year.
For the record, the grammar school is the oldest building here, constructed in 1910. Both the grammar school and the old high school would be demolished prior to 1953 to make room for a one-story addition to the new building. That addition survived until very recently, when it was torn down to accommodate the re-routing of Princess Anne Road.
While on the subject of additions, I noticed one more thing while studying these photos. Those of us who have lived in Kempsville for any length of time know about the one-story addition to the Kempsville High/Kemps Landing building; but these photos show that was not the first addition that was made:
The wall that faces the grammar school is the northernmost edge of the building in this 1942 photo.
By the time this picture was taken (before 1953) a new wing has appeared on the northwest corner of the building. That addition is still there.
ah Ha! So it wasn't a jail?!?! ;-)ReplyDelete
The old jail and courthouse were on Overland, behind Pleasant Hall. When I was a kid, the buildiing's shell was still standing next to the little graveyard there.Delete
You are correct about their location near Overland Rd. Both were torn down in the mid to late 1960's. There are archived Virginian Pilot articles about them.Delete
This is most interesting. Thanks for your research & information!ReplyDelete
the 2 smaller buildings are shown,im thnking,as standing where the old belo's supermarket once stood,and ed brook's gulf gas station on the corner of kempsville and princess anne roadReplyDelete
at least the one farthest from the big newer schoolReplyDelete
There was an old railroad grade that ran at a 45 deg. angle between the school buildings and the Belo shopping center that came some time later. A faint remnant of that railroad grade can be seen in the photo of the three buildings, behind the white barn-like structure that sits at an angle relative to the school buildings. The school buildings were south of the railroad grade, and the Belo shopping center was north of the grade; so they actually did not occupy the same space.ReplyDelete
The wooden tressel still existed across the creek behind Kemps Landing as late as the 1950's, because my parents have stated that they played on it. The railroad grade as it approaches same creek is still there, though no remnants of track exist today. My grandmother recalled the track still crossing near the intersection in the 1920's.Delete
This is a pretty nice find, Gary. Thank you for the informative article and for posting the pictures.Delete
Stumbled across your blog while doing some research on the former Kempsville High/Kemps Landing building. I hadn't been on Kempsville Road in some time, but managed to snap this photo yesterday. Thought it was interesting that the original name remained after all these years...ReplyDelete
An item which is often missed, is part, or all of the building functioned as Kempsville Junior High School for a time. My counsin went to this school when it was Kempsville Junior High.ReplyDelete
I have often heard Kempsville residents, both young and old, make the claim Kempsville was once incorporated. However, I've never heard of town officials, where boundaries were, etc. I have never believed Kempsville was ever incorporated. I've often thought the information was confused and Kempsville may have had village trustees, similar to Yorktown. Do you know about this?ReplyDelete
My cousin went to school in the two-story building(1941 bldg.) for the school year abt. 1956-1957. The two-story building was functioning as Kempsville Junior High School and the adjacent building was Kempsville Elementery. My cousin was living near Davis Corner. Don't know the grade she attended or the grades Kempsville Junior High offered. My cousin attended for only one year before moving to North Carolina. According to a city directory from the early 1960's, one of the principals of Kempsville Junior High School on Great Bridge Rd. was Norman W. Morris.ReplyDelete
I have never heard anyone refer to the 1941 building as Kempsville Junior High School except my family. The present Kempsville Miidle School, previously Kempsville Junior High, has never acknowledged there was a previous school by the same name which operated circa 1950's to early 1960's. I was born in the mid 1960's and only remember the buildings serving as Kemps Landing Elementary School and then other schools. I'm the same person who wrote the previous post about the junior high school.
I am sorry but I have to reform the information. My cousin attended Kempsville Junior High abt. the 1958-1959 school year. The one year she was there was in between 1958-1960 and was probably the 1958-1959 school year but may have been the 1959-1960 school year.ReplyDelete
I have enjoyed looking at your blog.
I stumbled upon this blog when I did a google search of "historic Kemps Landing Middle". I attended KLM for only half of a school year back in 1980. My parents moved to Ches, then out of state.. I moved back to the area 20yrs ago and have always been interested in following the transformation of this building. Thank you for the research and the post. Didn't the front of the building say Kemps Landing Middle when it was functioning as such? I swear it did. I wish that I had taken photos before its most recent transformation.ReplyDelete
According to a yearbook at archive.org, the building functioned as Kempsville Junior High School for the 1962-1963 school year. The yearbook was the Blue Devil. N. W. Morris was principal and James C. Mounie was Assistant principal. That year, the school offered 8th and 9th grade. The student council was known as the Student Cooperative Association. Vickie McKinney as the annual editor in chief. Julia Sweeney was the annual sponsor. Elaine Polizos was the librarian. Sweeney and Polizos were both serving at Virginia Beach Junior High School in the late '70's to early 80's.ReplyDelete
My family moved to our new house on Gainsborough Rd in Carolanne Farms in Dec 1962. I was in the 3rd grade and attended Kempsville Elementary along with my sisters, who were 5th and 7th grade. In 63/64 and 64/65 my oldest sister attended Kempsville Junior high for 8th and 9th grade. I remained at Kempsville Elementary for the school year 63/64 for 4th grade and they bussed my middle sister over to Woodstock Elementary that year for her 6th grade. In 64/65 Arrowhead Elementary opened and I attended the 5th grade there and my middle sister attended the 7th grade. In 65/66 my oldest sister went to PA for the 10th grade and stayed there until she graduated in 67/68. At that time, P.A was only taking 8th and 9th graders from the Thalia and P.A. Plaza area. The rest were still going to Kempsville Jr. High. My middle sister attended Kempsville Junior high that year for 8th grade which was the LAST year it operated as a Junior High (65/66). The following year 66/67 it opened up as Kemps Landing for 6th and 7th graders and I attended 7th grade. Kempsville H.S. also opened that year for grades 8 and 9 and my middle sister attended 9th grade. (Her class would go on to be the class of 1970- the first graduating class of Kempsville H.S.) In 67/68 Kempsville H.S. added the 10th grade to accomodate the class of 1970. I attended 8th and my middle sister was in the 10th. We moved away after that, but Kempsville H.S. continued to add a grade for the next 2 years, when the class of 70 graduated.Delete
This is a very interesting blog. I am interested in the Emanuel Episcopal Church Rectory which is suppose to have stood next to the church. This would be the historic clapboard structure. I have heard several stories of it's demise. I'm not sure any of the stories are true and accurate. One story states the house was heavily damaged in the church fire. Although the house didn't catch fire, because it was clapboard and next door to the church, suffered extensive heat and smoke damage, forcing it's demolition. I have found information which states the former rectory was standing in the 1960's which would mean the fire story is bad or there's a catch. Do you know about this?ReplyDelete
I attended Kemps Landing for my 7th grade in the 71'-72 school year. It was 6th and 7th grades only then.ReplyDelete
So did I. I probably knew you but can’t remember now that I’m old.Delete
My sisters, 2 and 4 years older than me, attended Kemps Landing when it was known as Kempsville Junior High, between the years of 1963-1966. It was changed to Kemps Landing in 1966 for 6th and 7th graders the same year that Kempsville High School opened it's doors for 8th and 9th grades. I attended Kemps Landing that year as a 7th grader. The following year, I went to Kempsville High School during it's second year when it was 8-10th grades. KHS added a grade each year until it became a full-fledged High School , 8th-12th in 1969 with it's first graduating class of 1970.ReplyDelete
It's great someone remembers the building functioning as the first incarnation of Kempsville Junior High School. I was beginning to think I had dreamed the information.ReplyDelete
There is a Wikipedia article which claims Kempsville incorporated May 5, 1783. There is another book, "Journal of the House of Delegates of the State of Virginia" which mentions Kempsville in 1784, the following year after the incorporation is suppose to have occurred. The notation mentions the trustees of the town of Kempsville. Villages with trustees were not incorporated which is why I don't believe Kempsville incorporated. If Kempsville was incorporated, when was the incorporation rescinded? Yorktown functioned with trustees until recent times although there was a brief period of incorporation in the late 18th century. The trustees responsibilities were finally yielded to York County about 20 or so years ago. As in Kempsville, the trustees were in charge of public land. In the early 1970's, I also recall they paid the electric bill for the street lights. Still,Yorktown was not incorporated. The only officials anyone seems to know about who served in Kempsville are some of the early trustees. I am an amateur, not a professional, but have been interested in a local history since childhood.
The wikipedia article also states the tavern in Kempsville burned in 1897. I think the tavern which is referenced was not in Kempsville but the one at Princess Anne Court House which some refer to as the Bonney Hotel. It was my impression the tavern in Kempsville existed well into the 20th century, although greatly altered, and was serving as the parsonage of Kempsville Baptist Church in the 1920's. An unverified report places the building approximately behind the present church or to the west of the church cemetery. I have not been able to verify the location of the former parsonage. If the location of the tavern/parsonage is correct, I have wondered if this was the building damaged in the church fire, and not the rectory of Emmanuel. The clapboard structure of Kempsville Baptist burned ca. 1950's or early 1960's, and would have stood directly in front of the parsonage, if the location I was given is correct.
The original bricks are in my backyard in Virginia Beach. As far as I know, there was a tavern in kempsville that was destroyed around the late 60's early 70's. I can't find any more info on it sadly and would love to see pictures.Delete
Wonderful to see the interest and photo's of old Kempsville School. I attended grammar school (1st & 2nd Grades) in the middle building 1952-1954. My mother was a pack rat, so I still have the class books depicting the administration, teachers, and students for the grammar school from that timeframe.ReplyDelete
I grew up in Virginia Beach. Went to Woodstock Elementary 4th through 6th grade then went to what was called Kemps Landing for 7th grade (1968), then Kempsville High School for 8th grade (1969), then the newly built Kempsville Jr. High for 9th grade (1970) and then back to Kempsville High School for 10th- 12th (1971-1973). Good to read the earlier history.ReplyDelete
I am looking for info on the people buried on Overland. I am the great great Granddaughter of McLin..ReplyDelete
I attended this school in 1st and 2nd grade in 1953-1955. I returned 5 years later for 7th (2nd semester), 8th and 9th grades in 1960 - 1962. Then on to Princess Anne High School. It's hard to believe that school is now 66 years old. Could someone please remind me of the name of the road/street that runs in front of this school in Kempsville? ThanksReplyDelete
In the Fall of 1950 and into the late Summer of 1951 our family lived in a house located at the corner of Raby Road and Valley Drive which is now located in the City of Norfolk. It was the only house on that piece of land. A major landfill, which we called "the dump" was directly across Raby Rd. from our house. The current map shows a Starbucks and a Taco Bell at that location where our house once stood. Back in 1950 it was in Princess Anne County which later became the City of Virginia Beach. I don't know the history of that location but I suppose it was annexed into Norfolk from Princess Anne County prior to the formation of the City of Virginia Beach. I was 8 years old and in the 2nd. grade at Kempsville Elementary School. My teacher was Mrs. Lassiter. The school bus picked us up early in the morning at the corner of Raby Rd. and Military Highway (U.S. Rt. 13). The bus ride to and from Kempsville seemed endless. Kempsville Elementary of my distant memory was a rural school with a dairy farm with a barn and grazing cows across the street. Nearby was the ruins of the old courthouse which was mostly a shell of a building. The only name I remember from my classmates was Mary Frances Baker who was the most beautiful girl that my 8 year old eyes had ever seen. Our family moved away after my second grade year and I never saw anyone from that class or even the school building again. Fond long ago memories.ReplyDelete
I lived on Providence Rd. In 1969-1970. It is probably named Old Providence Rd. now. I attended and finished 7th grade at Kempsville Middle School. I recall that the school was two stories. I think it was on Kempsville Road.ReplyDelete