The Winds of Change
Begin To Blow To The North
— Along the Oceanfront —
The classic photo from the early 1960's is looking north from atop the Mayflower Apartments. It recalls a mix of old family beach cottages, quaint inns, and exclusive and elegant hotels. By the mid 1970's, his scene would give way to a new era of larger hotels, many with a smaller Front Lobby, and offering accommodations designed more for easy access and convenience.
The photo below shows the 10-story, 272-unit Mayflower Apartments complex completed in 1951 at 34th Street and Atlantic Avenue. At that time, it was the tallest building in the Commonwealth of Virginia, raising 171 feet from ground level. The Hotel Warner, built in the late 1930's in front of the Mayflower Apartments, stands alone as growth of the resort area had yet to expand to the north end section of the Boardwalk. The wooded parcel, adjacent to The Warner, would remain vacant until 1959, when it would become the location of the Thunderbird Motor Lodge.
The three-story Gay Manor Hotel was built in 1935 at 39th Street and Oceanfront above the most northern parcel of land around hotel use in the resort area. The building was situated perpendicular to the ocean,
In 2010, the facility was expanded, completely refurbished and modernized. Today it is the location of the "family friendly" Holiday Inn & North Beach.
The Peppermint Beach Club opened in 1965 and quickly became the hot spot for great music, dancing and nightlife for the younger crowd at the Oceanfront. The open-air pavilion allowed the sounds of the ocean waves and cool breezes to mingle with the popular music of the day. Both natural and local recording artists kept the crowds entertained night after night, week after week and year after week for 18 years. "The Peppermint" closed in 1985, thus ending a spectacular run of two decades that gave a lifetime of fond memories for those who were there.
The Thunderbird Motor Lodge, built in 1959, represented "the new wave of oceanfront lodging." Located at 35th Street and Oceanfront, at the "quiet end of the boardwalk", the five story "high rise" hotel was open year round and said to be "as modern as tomorrow." For 47 years, the pale blue motor lodge remained a symbol of the 60's "new look" generation of lodging along the Oceanfront. The Thunderbird was demolished in 2006 to make way for a newer generation of
By the late 1970's and into the early 1980's the area at the northern terminus of the boardwalk and essentially been fully developed. The clean and spacious beachfront continued to be a draw to the shoreline and in 1974, the Sheraton Hotel Resort and Conference Center located between 35th and 36th Streets became, and remains, the crown jewel at the northern end of the resort area.
The Impact of World War II
The World War Ii era had a two-fold dramatic impact on life along the Oceanfront. The first was an immediate result of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Growth and tourism in the resort area came to a sudden halt. Most of the larger hotels were taken over by the government to house an influx of military personnel and related support services. Fort Story and Camp Pendleton more than doubled the size, and new military facilities were established at Dam Neck, Little Creek and Oceana. A housing shortage and strains on the city water supply system resulted. German U-boats, patrolling only four miles offshore, were positioned to launch torpedo attacks on Allied ships entering or leaving Chesapeake Bay at Cape Henry. The war was literally at our doorstep.
Times were bad, but things could have been worse. For the many thousands of military personnel passing through, entertainment at the various beach clubs was maintained at a high
Although the pains of war would last forever, life was good again on the Oceanfront.
Due to a series of severe winter storms in 1951, beach erosion along the resort area of the Oceanfront threatened the very existence of the tourist industry. There was virtually no beach! In 1952, The Virginia Beach Erosion Commission was established to find a way to remedy this serious problem. A brilliant solution was implemented during the winter of 1952. The beach was built back by dredging 1,250,000 cubic yards of sand out of Rudee Inlet and onto the deteriorated beachfront. This photo shows the progression of the rebuilding process. Once completed, the city promoted the result as the "New Million Dollar Beach!"
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Entertainment • Industry & Commerce
Location. 36° 51.851′ N, 75° 58.806′ W. Marker is in North Virginia Beach in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Marker is on 36th Street just east of Pacific Avenue (U.S. 60), on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 205 36th St, Virginia Beach VA 23451, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. VB Now (here, next to this marker); The Ash Wednesday Storm (here, next to this marker); Seaside Park Casino / The Cavalier Hotel (here, next to this marker); Premier Boardwalk Events (here, next to this marker); A Day at the Beach (a few steps from this marker); The Princess Anne Hotel (a few steps from this marker); The Graveyard of the Atlantic (a few steps from this marker); The Threshold of a New Nation (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in North Virginia Beach.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 20, 2021. It was originally submitted on January 20, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 29 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on January 20, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.