South Newport News , Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
James A. Fields House
Up from Slavery
James Apostles Fields was born into slavery in Hanover County, Virginia, in 1844. During the Civil War, Fields and his brother George escaped to Hampton, where in 1862 they found refuge as "contrabands of war" at Fort Monroe. James Fields served as a guide for U.S. Army troops there. He learned to read and attended the "Butler School," named for commanding Gen. Benjamin F. Butler and operated by missionaries. When Gen. Samuel Chapman Armstrong came to Hampton after the war as the Freedmen’s Bureau superintendent, he employed Fields at the Bureau storehouse, where the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (now Hampton University) originated.
Fields was in the Institute’s first graduating class in 1871. He became an educator and taught for fourteen years in Elizabeth City County and in Williamsburg. He served as a justice of the peace in 1879, becoming Virginia’s first black judicial officer. Fields became an attorney as well, graduating from Howard University’s School of Law in 1881. He served as commonwealth’s attorney for Warwick County (now Newport News) in 1887. He was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates for the
Fields purchased this Italianate house for his residence in 1897 and had his law office here until his death in 1903. The building served as Whittaker Memorial Hospital, the first black hospital in the city of Newport News between 1908 and 1910. It was then the only medical facility for blacks here except for the city’s jail infirmary. The James A. Fields House was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Government & Politics • Science & Medicine • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and the Virginia Civil War Trails series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1844.
Location. 36° 58.985′ N, 76° 25.28′ W. Marker is in Newport News, Virginia. It is in South Newport News. Marker is at the intersection of 27th Street (Virginia Route 143 E) and Jefferson Avenue, on the left when traveling east on 27th Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Newport News VA 23607, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this markerJames A. Fields House (here, next to this marker); Gregory Cherry (here, next to this marker); Crusader for Legal Justice (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Jessie Menifield Rattley (about 600 feet away); Newport News Pays Tribute (about 700 feet away); Ella Fitzgerald (about 700 feet away); Memorial Design & Concept (about 700 feet away); King Comes to Newport News (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Newport News.
More about this marker. The upper right of the marker contains a photograph of a “Streetscape, 25th St. and Jefferson Ave., ca. 1940s. James A. Fields first established his law offices at this intersection in the heart of the Newport News African American community, before moving to the Fields House at 27th St. and Jefferson Ave. in 1897. - Courtesy Daily Press, Newport News, Va.”
The bottom left of the marker features a picture of “Gen. Ben Butler and ‘Contraband of War’” and a portrait of James Apostles Fields.
Also see . . . Tidewater Virginia, Museums and Visitor Centers. Civil War Traveler website. (Submitted on August 22, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.)
Credits. This page was last revised on February 1, 2023. It was originally submitted on August 22, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 2,275 times since then and 30 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on February 7, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 2. submitted on August 22, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey. 3. submitted on February 7, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 4, 5, 6. submitted on August 22, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.