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Congressman Bobby Scott

Representing the 3rd District of Virginia

HONORING THE CENTENNIAL OF HILTON VILLAGE IN NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA

June 27, 2018
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate a historic neighborhood in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. Historic Hilton Village in Newport News will celebrate its centennial on July 7, 2018. To mark the occasion, I would like to take a moment to highlight the history of this neighborhood and recognize its contributions to our community.

Hilton Village sits on 100 acres of forested land between the James River and C&O Railroad in the city of Newport News, Virginia. It was constructed in 1918 to address the severe housing shortage for shipbuilders employed by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company. At the time, the United States had just entered World War I and Newport News Shipbuilding had received contracts to build naval ships and thousands of shipbuilders came to the area to assist with the war effort.

Hilton Village stands out in United States history as the first government experiment in urban planning and the first federally funded war-housing project. The President of Newport News Shipbuilding, Homer L. Ferguson, first lobbied Congress for additional housing to support his burgeoning workforce when he traveled to Washington in 1917 to voice his concern with the overcrowding of shipbuilder's quarters. Shortly after his visit, Congress provided the United States Shipping Board with $1.2 million to plan and build Hilton Village. Henry Vincent Hubbard, a Harvard graduate and one of the best town planners at the time, served as the village planner. Francis Joannes was the village architect and Francis H. Bulot was the project engineer. They designed the buildings with the most modern methods based on input of shipbuilders' wives. Hilton Village was designed to offer many local services. The plan even included tracks for a trolley car to allow workers to commute to the Shipyard and to the greater Newport News region where city services and shopping were centered. The first development of Hilton Village consisted of a block of English village style homes owned by Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company, plots for four churches, a library and a strip of stores. By 1920, Hilton Village had developed into almost 400 homes, a fire-house, a business district, an elementary school which is still open to this day--Hilton Elementary School--and a small park with a beach and pier known as Hilton Pier.

After World War I, the chairman of the board at the shipyard, Henry E. Huntington purchased Hilton Village from the government and operated the community as the Newport News Land Company. Huntington's Newport News Land Company rented out Hilton homes to community residents and in 1922 sold the properties to private owners. Gradually, Hilton Village became a community for families, business owners, retirees and young adults. In 1969, Hilton Village was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which deemed it worthy of preservation for its historical significance. Four streets--Hopkins Street, Post Street, Ferguson Avenue and Palen Avenue--are named after former Newport News Shipyard and Drydock Company executives. Two other avenues, Hurley and Piez were named in honor of U.S. Shipping Board and Emergency Fleet Corporation executives involved in the project.

Today Hilton Village boasts 27 unique boutiques, eateries, art galleries and salons and continues to thrive as one of Newport News' prized cultural centers. In 2009, Hilton Village was designated one of 10 Great Neighborhoods by the American Planning Association, because it is a prime example of timeless neighborhood planning. It was the first out of about 100 federally financed housing projects during World War I, and it remains a national model for communities that are looking to plan and build inclusive, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods.

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the residents of Hilton Village on their centennial celebration and for helping make Newport News a great place to live and raise a family.