Sunday, April 14, 2024

Hilton Village is 100 years old, and Saturday is the big celebration

Hilton Village was developed in 1918. (HNNDaily photo/ Courtesy of Newport News Library)

NEWPORT NEWS — The events celebrating Hilton Village turning 100 began in January and will continue through December.

However, its main event is Saturday with the daylong Grand Celebration.

All sorts of activities are planned, including walking tours, open houses, live music, arts and crafts, as well as food vendors.

But one of the biggest draws is expected to be a living history village, which will be open from 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

“It’s going to be a re-creation of what it might have been to be in the village at that time,” said Dana Robbins, a local real estate agent who is a co-chair of the Grand Celebration.

The living history village will be set up on Main Street, and cover nearly the two blocks that are closest to Hilton Elementary School.

“We are going to have soldiers there. We’re going to have a small livestock area. We’re going to have musicians of the time,” Robbins said, adding the area will showcase various people who made significant impacts on Hilton Village.

“This is going to be a very, rich historical area with a lot of re-enactors,” she said.

Hilton Village was a joint creation of the U.S. Shipping Board and Newport News Shipbuilding in 1918 to house shipyard employees during World War I.

The names of the streets honor officials from the government and the shipyard.

The homes, which were built in 1918-1920 and situated on 5 square blocks, originally were rented out. About 10-15 years after the end of the war, many of the 500 homes (a mix of single-family and duplexes) were sold to private owners.

The area has been cited as a pioneering development in urban planning, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Giving people the idea of just the heart and history of Hilton Village, hoping to educate people about the importance of it and to honor the past and try to carry it into the future,” she said. “The sole reason it was built was for the shipyard. It would not have come into existence if there wasn’t a need to house people, workers.”

Today, it’s mostly a combination of young families, professors from Christopher Newport University and the military, Robbins said.

“It’s a very mixed group of families that are in there,” she said. “You do have folks who have owned homes in there since the ’30s or ’40s, or their families have and they’re maybe investment properties now.”

The official planning of the event began about 18 months ago, and it has involved hundreds of volunteers.

“Our very first meeting that was kind of an open-to-the-public meeting was back in January of 2017,” Robbins said.

However, there were talks before that with the city, which is not putting on the event, but is an event sponsor.

“They are providing the oversight. They are providing the public safety,” Robbins said.

Robbins said the city is planning for about 5,000 spectators throughout the day, which is, more or less, split into two time slots.

The early activities, which begin at 8 a.m. and go until about 4 p.m., primarily will be on the commercial district along Warwick Boulevard and on Main Street.

At about 4:30 p.m., the focus shifts toward the school, with an official ceremony in front of Hilton Elementary. River Road will be closed off, and stadium seating will be available on the street facing the school.

After the ceremony, organizers will ask those in attendance to walk behind the school, along the waterfront, and form a giant 100. They have arranged for a drone to take a picture of the event.

The celebration will continue behind the school until about 10 p.m. with more carnival games, food trucks, and live music from Brother Lucy and The Original Rhondels.


(Events begin at 8 a.m. and end at 10 p.m.)

  • 8 a.m.: Coffee and doughnuts (corner of Main Street and River Road).
  • 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Walking architectural tours.
  • 11 a.m.-4 p.m.: Open houses.
  • 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.: Vintage vehicle showcase.
  • 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.: Profiles of Honor mobile tour.
  • 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.: 1918 Living History Village opens (Main Street near River Road).
  • 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.: Food trucks, music.
  • 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m.: Official ceremony (in front of Hilton Elementary School).
  • 6 p.m.-10 p.m.: Party @ The River (with food, carnival games, live music from Brother Lucy and The Original Rhondels).

For a complete list of events for July 7 and the rest of the year, click here.

Related Articles