BTW 50th Class Reunion
Rediscovering and remembering the days of their youth and the City where it all happened. The BTW Class of 1969 will tour the City of Norfolk ad connect with their heritage.
Captain William Willoughby built this house in 1794, which is now used for special programs and exhibits by the Chrysler Museum of Art. William Willoughby was a descendant of early colonial settler Thomas Willoughby who in 1636 received a grant of 200 acres from the King of England. The house stayed in the family through the 19th century. As fewer families lived in the downtown area, the home fell into disrepair and would have been demolished had it not been for the efforts of preservationists and the Norfolk Historical Foundation. The Foundation restored the home, which now offers a variety of art exhibits, cultural programs, and occasional lectures related to the history of Norfolk. A highlight of the home, the land around the home is maintained in the manner common to colonial gardens.
Norfolk native and Post Office Department employee, Wyckham Langley Tyler, who worked at this address, was an African American serviceman with the 369th Infantry Regiment 93rd U.S. Infantry Division, known as the Harlem Hellfighters. Designated a Supply Sergeant, Tyler nevertheless "took charge of company in absence of officers and led to a position of resistance." His action brought Tyler a citation by the Regiment Commander and a field commission to 2nd lieutenant in France on September 27th, 1918. With his new commission, Tyler was transferred to Co. A 370th Infantry Regiment 93rd Division.
During a time of racism and prejudice, African American enlisted to fight during World War One. Paul Washington Alexander, of Norfolk, Virginia was a member of the United States army during the Great War. Although, Paul Washington had limited education and faced many prejudices during his life, he still embodied the feeling of patriotism and fought during the war. "My attitude was patriotic and I felt that my call to the war was a blessing from God to give me a chance to serve my government and country in its greatest crisis".
The Attucks Theater is the oldest theater to be built, financed, and operated by African Americans. The theater operated from 1919 to 1953, and thanks to the efforts of local preservationists and philanthropists, this historic venue was saved from possible destruction and has been restored so that it can once again host regional and national acts. During its first 34 years of operation, the theater was known to African American performers as "The Apollo of the South." The theater re-opened in 2004 and continues to serves as a performing arts theater.
Norfolk State University (NSU) is a public four-year, coed, liberal arts university and one of the largest historically black colleges in the country. Established in 1935 as the Norfolk Unit of Virginia Union University, NSU became an independent college in 1969. NSU is a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Virginia High-Tech Partnership. It is also the home of the Harrison B. Wilson African Art Gallery, located in the school's library.
Beneath the waving flags and patriotic rhetoric, there lies a nuanced experience of participation of African Americans in the American Expeditionary Force during the First World War. Herbert Ulysses White, a Norfolk native who lived at this address, attended Norfolk High School before going on to Hampton University. After the War, he finished his degree and went on to become a lawyer.
This marks the 1920 address of John Webb Johnson. Johnson was an African American who served with distinction in the US Army Medical Corps in France in World War 1. Johnson saw extensive action evacuating front line casualties.
Seaview Beach and Amusement Park was a "coloreds only" resort, operating for 20 years on then Bay Shore Drive, now known as Shore Drive. Seaview Beach featured many popular musicians and groups while it was operating, and was an iconic resort for the African-American population in both Tidewater, and across Virginia. The resort underwent numerous renovations during its existence, featuring different rides and attractions for the thousands of guests it attracted each weekend. Its history is important to understanding the socioeconomic statuses of African-Americans in the area, and its success and demise also reminds people of the history of segregation in the South.