I was at the NARO on Friday night for the special showing of The Big Lebowski, sponsored by AltDaily.
Norfolk has come a long way, but there’s still much to do when it comes to preserving the things about our city that make it great, and nurturing the new lights springing up. One of those things that makes Norfolk great is under threat: Talbot Hall.
Talbot Hall is an early Federal era plantation house on the shores of the Lafayette River, not far from Wards Corner. Originally built in 1799 as a country home for the Talbot family of merchants and planters, Talbot Hall played host to Edgar Allen Poe shortly before his death and, in the Civil War, it served as a Confederate camp during the Battle of the Monitor and Merrimac. It was spared from Union torches when Federal soldiers were moved by the relief carving of the Great Seal of the United States above the parlor mantle (the Seal remains there today, showing the seventeen stars that followed admission of Ohio to the Union in 1803).
In the 1950s, the house and the land immediately surrounding it were donated to the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia, preserving the historical building and the delicate shoreline and marsh adjacent.
Now, financial difficulty has compelled the Diocese to begin exploring the possibility of selling the property. With its prime location on the waterfront, it’s not hard to imagine that this ecological and historical gem could quickly find its way to become the next waterfront condo development.
Fortunately, the history of Talbot Hall is not finished being written. At a public meeting held on June 30, about 200 concerned Hampton Roads residents were in attendance, offering up a multitude of suggestions on how the Talbot Hall property could be preserved, while also helping alleviate the financial distress facing the Diocese.
If you’re a regular reader of AltDaily, chances are it’s because you care about Norfolk. Maybe you have treasured it for years, or maybe you just moved here and are finding out what a cool town it is. In any case, you’re the kind of person who believes in Norfolk and its future.
One of the things I’ve always loved about Norfolk is how we live with our past, not in it. It doesn’t constrain us, it informs us. It reminds us of where we’ve come from — good and bad — so we can figure out where we’re going. We don’t cling to an imagined glorious past as much as we celebrate the great accomplishments behind us and are inspired to overcome the obstacles before us.
Talbot Hall is one of these things to celebrate, and its preservation will show our children that living with our history is one of those things that makes being from Norfolk mean something.
The next public meeting will be held on Thursday, July 15 at 6:30 at the Church of the Ascension (405 Talbot Hall Road, Norfolk). It’s a chance to be part of a movement to save one of the last historical homes and urban green spaces still left unprotected in Norfolk.
I hope to see you there.
Click here for more information about the public meeting.
Click here to join the cause on Facebook.