The Princess Anne Hotel
There Was No Finer Place, Anywhere
— Along the Oceanfront —
In 1883, a 19-ile narrow gauge railroad was built from Norfolk to the Oceanfront to transport passengers to the seashore. The trip lasted 45 minutes. Prior to this time, the trip required almost two days to traverse over rough terrain by horse and wagon.
Once the 19-mile rail line was established, quick and easy travel from Norfolk to the Oceanfront provided "picnic excursionists" the ability to flock to the seashore in droves. It became obvious that overnight accommodations were necessary. A hotel was built and owned by the railroad company. However, between 1884 and 1887 the rail line, the 1,600 acres and the newly built hotel changed ownership several times. With each change came vast improvements to the properties. By 1888, hotel improvements were so significant it was written that the Princess Anne had become a "Grand Hotel, like no other."
Nevertheless, the Princess Anne Hotel experienced only mixed success during its first 20 years of operation. Then, in 1907, The Jamestown Exposition, an event celebrating the 300-year history of America, was held in nearby Norfolk and brought a new energy to the struggling resort town
Then disaster struck. In the predawn hours of June 10, 1907, a fire broke out in the kitchen. Within 20 minutes the wood-shingled structure became a raging inferno. Miraculously, all guests, clad only in their night clothes, escaped the flames, but the fire claimed the lives of two hotel employees.
Sadly, the Princess Anne Hotel (1885-1907) was gone and the tiny resort township of Virginia Beach had lost the draw of a first-class hotel. However, in the smoldering ruins of the "Grand Hotel," a foundation remained for future growth, albeit very slowly.
This rare photo was taken from an airplane in July, 1920 of the 16th street area. The vacant lot was once the site of the original Princess Anne Hotel. The Norwegian Lady figurehead is visible in the center of the of the photo, having stood there since 1891. Note the pilings of the old bulkhead destroyed in 1907 by the Princess Anne Hotel fire.
With an influx of U.S. Army soldiers stationed at Fort Story, seeral cottages along the Oceanfront participated in the Norfolk War-Camp Community Service Program, providing off-duty soldiers fellowship and a home-cooked meal in a family style setting. The Atlantic Cottage on 22nd Street was one of those cottages.
In 1914, the Army purchased 343 acres at Cape Henry to build a peacetime facility to guard and protect the Virginia
The Arlington Hotel at 13th Street and the Oceanfront was built in 1888 by the W.P. Ashburn family. At the southern end of the original Boardwalk, the Arlington was very popular by offering a less-elegant alternative to the Princess Ann Hotel that anchored the northern end of the Boardwalk at 16th Street. In those days, hotels provided all three meals to their guests, and the Arlington was well known for its outstanding cuisine.
The early Virginia Beach cottage line and original Boardwalk in 1912. The ramp along the Boardwalk was used by local fisherman to beach their carts that transported their fishing boats.
In 1907, just after the fire leveled the Princess Anne Hotel, M.C. Ferebee, a Norfolk businessman, purchased the family cottage of Emmerson Land n 14th Street and converted it into a small hotel. Over the next several years, he and his brother Enoch began to add more properties (as seen in this photo) that flanked the cottage. By the mid 1930's the hotels comprise most of the area between 13th and 14th streets.
The Princess Anne Hotel offered tours through the pine forests and small lakes surrounding the
Prior to 1907, every cottage required a separate water well.
The elegant "Tait" Cottage at 25th Street was built of stone in 1906. Subsequently, the 11-bedroom cottage became the family summer home of prominent Norfolk businessman J.C. Tait. in 1922, the house was sold to developers who added several wings to the house, thus creating the Princess Anne Inn. Through the years, it became the largest hotel in Virginia Beach. Today a modern Holiday Inn Express & Suites occupies this prominent site.
"The Cottage Line" looking south from 25th Street about 1918. The brown shingled building was originally built as a hunting club in 1893 by early visionary developer Marshall Parks. By 1885, the building had been converted into the first hotel offering overnight accommodations in Virginia Beach.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Entertainment • Industry & Commerce.
Location. 36° 51.853′ N, 75° 58.796′ W. Marker is in North Virginia Beach in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Marker is on 36th Street just west of Atlantic Avenue, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Graveyard of the Atlantic (here, next to this marker); A Day at the Beach (here, next to this marker); The Threshold of a New Nation (here, next to this marker); Seaside Park Casino / The Cavalier Hotel (a few steps from this marker); The Ash Wednesday Storm (a few steps from this marker); The Winds of Change (a few steps from this marker); VB Now (a few steps from this marker); Premier Boardwalk Events (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 43 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on January 20, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.