Randolph, Tazewell, and Bay Avenue Houses
June 16, 2014
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Cape Charles Historical Society has for more than a decade been recording oral histories of the area’s earlier days. A grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities enabled 15 interviews to be transcribed, and the Historical Society has made this one available for readers of the Wave. All the transcriptions may be read at the Cape Charles Museum.)
1990 Interview of Virginia Fitzhugh conducted by Virginia Savage
VIRGINIA SAVAGE: Let’s talk about Randolph Avenue. You lived in the Wilkins house. Now that was the Wilkins that built what is now the Methodist Parsonage. And the other Wilkins was Elliott’s grandfather. And then he built both of those houses. The Eleanor Lowe house I believe is next and Mr. Jack Scott built that for her. Do you remember when that was being built?
VIRGINIA FITZHUGH: No. Eleanor was older than me, and I don’t remember. You know, Virginia, back in those days you didn’t roam around town like the kids do today. You just went so far and that was it. You just had your group of friends. He built that and the one next to that is that bungalow and that was built by Sterling, a man named Sterling.
I think a Miss Sterling lived in that when I came here.
No, a Mrs. George Guy. She was a caretaker.
What did the Sterlings do?
Well, you know where Lee Sterling lives. Well, that house was on the corner where the Post Office is now. That house has been moved and turned around and that was the Sterling house.
This is the house across Tazewell Avenue and one from the corner from the Presbyterian Church that you’re talking about. The great big house and they moved it back. There was an explosion in the late ‘60s and it burned. A new house has been built, very close in type to the old houses. Lee Sterling worked at Colonial Store.
That’s right. That’s where the Sterlings lived. I think some of that property still belongs to the Sterling girls, Josephine and I think her sister.
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There was a Miss Sterling that used to do beautiful sewing, was she the family?
No, you’re talking about Mrs. Denny. Can’t think of her name but she used to do her sewing in Elise Horner’s house.
OK, who built that house?
That was built by the people who worked in the bank. Lemuel Mumford. Now, Rourke Nottingham built where Jeanette lives. And the next house was built by the man who worked in the bank. And then the next house to that was the Restein house and Resteins built that.
The one Postmaster Churn lived in? Was that Louis Restein’s father?
Louis’ father built that house. Yes, he worked for the railroad.
I think the house that Elise Dodd lives in, that you couldn’t remember the name of who lived in it, I think that is the prettiest house in Cape Charles. And it’s always been hidden behind trees and nobody paid much attention to it. Now: Henrietta Trower’s house on the corner of the beach.
That was built by Mr. Dryden. Mr. E.P. Dryden. He had a grocery store on Front Street.
When did Dr. Trower buy it? Because they were there when I came over in 1950.
I can’t remember.
Who built the double houses? Did Mrs. Travis?
No. I think Mr. Dryden built them, too. Mrs. Travis bought them and bought that row of houses. Because on the corner was Miss Lina Taylor, where the B&B is. That was built by Ina Taylor. Then the row of houses down was the same thing.
Someone was very much agitated because they were called “tenement houses” in our brochure. But were they called tenement houses when they were built?
I never heard them called that. You see, Mr. Dryden would like to have owned that whole block. And he tried to buy up the property all around. Now Miss Lina Taylor wouldn’t sell to him. So he had those and built down that line. Then Mrs. Travis, I guess when her husband died, she invested her money in those houses. Marion Lutinger’s mother. Not kin to Rubert/C. Butch Travis.
Tell me about Miss Taylor that built what is now Sea Gate B&B.
Miss Lina Taylor. Well, when we lived on Randolph Avenue, she lived across the street from us. And when Daddy built on Tazewell and Pine down there, she said that town was so lonesome up there that her neighbors had moved, she bought a piece of property and built on Monroe Avenue.
TO BE CONTINUED