Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thomson's Corner & Coleman Farm

In 2003 a group from Oaklette United Methodist Church published a book entitled Indian River: From Farmland to Suburbs 1700-1960. They gathered dozens of stories and hundreds of photos from members and neighbors to produce a detailed history of the Oaklette/Norfolk Highlands area. Unfortunately the book is out of print and hard to come by these days, so hopefully a parishioner will see fit to donate a copy to the Virginia Beach Public Library.


There are a couple of photos in that book that might be of interest to Woodstock residents, and the good people of Oaklette UMC have granted me permission to share them with you:




This photo is originally credited to Marjorie Wolters.
Reprinted here by permission of Oaklette UMC.


Look carefully and you will see handwriting in the top-right corner that says "Thomson's store 1902". Thomson's Corner, known more recently as Barrett's Corner, is the intersection of Providence and Indian River Roads. The structure at the center of the photo is Thomson's store, which was located on the property that is now Lidl's northeast parking lot. To the right, Indian River Road extends northwest toward Norfolk Highlands, Oaklette and Berkeley; and to the left, [Old] Providence Road extends southwest toward South Norfolk (though in 1902 Providence Road was referred to as Kempsville Road or "the road from Kempsville to Providence Church.").

While the photo is clearly from an age gone by, the 1902 date is in question. Robert Thomson was born in 1881 in Lanarkshire, Scotland, and emigrated to the U.S. in 1904. In 1909 he purchased several acres of land between Indian River and [Old] Providence roads (from the intersection west to the old bank property) and set up shop. It is certainly possible that the photo is from 1902 but the structure was referred to as "Thomson's store" when the photo was labeled and cataloged at a later time. It is also possible that the photo was taken at some point between 1909 and 1936.

Robert Thomson died in October of 1936. In June of 1946 the land was purchased by Joseph A. Barrett, Sr. The area is still referred to as Barrett's Corner today.




This photo is originally credited to Bonnie P. Moore.
It is reprinted here by permission of Oaklette UMC.


Immediately behind Thomson's store, a little further down Providence Road and about 40 years later, is the G.C. Coleman Farm (now College Park). The barn pictured here survived until recently, having served for many years as the meeting hall of Trinity Tabernacle Church (aka "The Barn"). Today that land hosts the 900 Aquoa apartment complex.

This photo is dated ca. 1945; and based on the angles of the buildings in view, I will guess that the photo was taken somewhere near the Dunkin Donuts entrance on Old Providence Road, facing south. Providence Road was re-routed ca. 1970 to the other side of the barn as Coleman Farm was developed into the College Park subdivision.

A special "thank you" to Frank Nuckols Jr., who let me borrow his copy of the book.


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