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Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce (Norfolk Academy)

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Norfolk Academy
1840–1841, Thomas U. Walter. 1970–1972, renovation, Leavitt Associates. 420 Bank St.
  • Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce (Norfolk Academy) (Virginia Division of Historic Resources)
  • Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce (Norfolk Academy) (Richard Guy Wilson)

The Norfolk Academy, founded in 1786, had by the early nineteenth century outgrown its original frame building on Church Street (now St. Paul's Boulevard). In 1840, the building committee, headed by Christopher Hall, commissioned Thomas U. Walter of Philadelphia to design a new building on land near the city's northern border. Although Walter never visited Norfolk, this was the first of several projects in the city to which he devoted his attention.

Walter preferred to design in the Greek Revival mode, and, given the classical foundations of American pedagogy in the nineteenth century, this style was considered to be especially appropriate for educational buildings. The building takes the form of a pseudo-peripteral Doric temple, with double-height porticoes at the east and west ends. Six unfluted columns support plain pediments, and an alternating rhythm of simple pilasters and recessed windows articulates the side walls. The brick construction is disguised by a stucco finish, coursed to resemble ashlar. In general, the building's early classical proportions recall the Temple of Hera II at Paestum (c. 450 B.C.), one of the best preserved of all ancient Greek temples.

The academy moved to a new campus in 1915, and for many years the building served the Norfolk Juvenile Court. A renovation in the early 1970s restored the exterior of the building to near its original appearance, but the interior was completely modernized.

Writing Credits

Richard Guy Wilson et al.


What's Nearby


Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce (Norfolk Academy)", [Norfolk, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 418-418.

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