Developer Devalues Old School; County Agrees

After the Town of Cape Charles sold its only basketball court to a developer, it also removed the hoops and backboards for “safekeeping.” The purchaser, J. David McCormack, then argued to the county that he should not have to pay property tax on the court because it no longer had any value. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

July 14, 2014

The Old School in Central Park was valued on the tax rolls at $921,000 when the Town of Cape Charles sold it for $10 in December 2012 to a developer.  J. David McCormack promised to invest over $2 million to convert the school into a 17-unit apartment building, and town officials saw dollar signs in increased property tax.

But after taking ownership of the building, McCormack informed County officials that while he still plans to spend $2 million, he nevertheless estimates the ultimate value of the school and property to be as low as $750,000.  McCormack made that statement in an appeal to Northampton County to lower his tax assessment, and the county complied.

The 2013 county-wide reassessment dropped the school property from $921,000 to $510,900. But McCormack argued that the value should be much less. He noted that the basketball court was valued at $8,000, but pointed out that “the basketball hoops have been dismantled by the Town of Cape Charles, and the courts are no longer in use.” (The Wave reported in December 2012 that after the town sold the school property, it removed the basketball hoops at town expense, even though the hoops no longer belonged to the town.)

McCormack claimed that due to the removal of the hoops the court should have a value of zero, but the county would not go that far. It did, however, drop the assessed court value from $8,000 down to $2,500. [Read more…]


ORAL HISTORY: More Monroe Avenue Houses

104 Monroe Avenue, built c. 1923 by Miss

104 Monroe Avenue, built c. 1923 by Miss Lina Taylor but known by most locals as the Bull House, where schoolteacher Ruby and husband Ryland Bull lived for many years. (Wave photo)

July 14, 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. CLICK to read previous oral histories in the Wave.)

1990 Interview of Virginia Fitzhugh conducted by Virginia Savage


VIRGINIA FITZHUGH: When we lived on Randolph Avenue, Miss Lina Taylor 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.

VIRGINIA SAVAGE: I love that house. And she would be pleased to know that the stairwell is back in it and it’s no longer two stories. Did she have a family?

She had Gordon Ames and Winton. Now, Gordon, you remember Cary Ames? Well, that was one of Miss Taylor’s sister.  See that double house in back of us, Miss Taylor built. She sold that house to Dixon, that’s on the corner where the B&B is now. Mr. Dixon was a painter, paper hanger.

Now that’s always been referred to as the Dixon house. He’s the one that turned it into two apartments then.

That’s right.

Because when I first came over to the shore, you had to go up a back staircase to get to Bond Disharoon’s apartment.

And Miss Taylor built that big, brick double house in back of ours, where Ruby Bull lived; they lived there for years. That’s right, the Schrecks were living in one part. Then Miss Taylor died and Marie married and went to New York and they sold that house to Ryland Bull. See, Ryland lived up the street in that double house that’s across from Ethel May [500 block of Monroe]. And he sold that and bought the double house of Miss Taylor’s. Cary Ames was the daughter-in-law. the son was Gordon. He built the house they lived in. [Read more…]

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FEATURE: Up the Creek Without a Paddle


July 14, 2014

Living on the Eastern Shore, bounded by water on two sides, makes owning something to float on a necessity. I have this little kayak, a short, round, cute little tub. Not a streamlined kayak, just a little basic kayak. Used it every so often, not too often. After a long, painful trip out to the Barrier Islands a few weeks ago, I realized that my paddling days were not so enjoyable any more.

I also have another boat, a small aluminum rowboat. Has been sitting in my backyard as an ornament for years, slowly turning into a planter. So a few days ago, I decided to purchase a real, small outboard engine at a local marina. Next day I was ready to head out with my new toy. Eureka! It felt like having my first car, after riding a bike for years. Freedom!

Started out early to avoid the searing afternoon heat. Made it to the boat ramp just fine. Backing up took (quite) a few tries. The boat ramp looks much wider close-up when on foot. (Note to self: Should practice backing up in my driveway — and remember, turning left means the bloody boat turns right!)

Slid the boat off the trailer without any problems — even remembered to tie it up before I parked the car. Tried to lower the motor into the water. Where on earth was that little gizmo Tom showed me at the marina that I had to pull out first? Ten minutes later — oh, this one! (Note to self: Things look different when viewed standing on land behind the boat.)

Then tried to start the motor. Pump … Choke … Pull … Again. Took a few pulls (Why did it only take ONE at the marina?) And then the motor stopped. Again — see above — nothing, just a few sputters. Ten minutes later — Success! (Note to self: Do NOT stand on the gas supply hose while trying to start the motor!) [Read more…]