Newport News

12 Mar

Have a Coke and a smile.

By Silver Blue

Continuing from this post, I thought it best to show you a new found treasure, the current state of the building, and what fate befell the original Coca-Cola plant.

The original set of photos had been taken in 2007; I’d not been back to the neighbourhood in 5 years. What changes would meet me?

The abandoned plant is still in relatively good shape:

The end two Coke bottles still have their coverings over them which were put in place (actually, over all four Coke bottles, the Coca-Cola Logo panels, and the center “Newport News Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Inc”) when the plant was shuttered. I’m surprised that Coke, proper, hasn’t attempted to salvage one of the stone bottles, or some of the stonework. This is history! Then again, to today’s society… history isn’t what it used to be.

The old plant, sadly, met with a disappointing fate. The building was donated to be rehabilitated and repurposed into apartments. The city inspector came, declared the building structurally unsound and condemned it. By the end of December, 2011, it was demolished. This is all that remains of the “curved” building… just a grassy field:

Comparison time:

Still, there was a bit of magic to behold.

Across the street from the remaining Coke Plant is St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church (elegant architecture that will be featured in a future blog post). Behind the Church, however, are the remnants of a painted store advertisement:

I don’t know what Perry’s was, or what this building used to be (or why it was modified), but I found it somehow comforting to see the familiar Coca-Cola bottles on it, still. In fact, if you look closely, you can see that there was a sign painted UNDER the current sign.

Taking another angle, and processing it through attempting to bring out as much detail as I could:

The word “CUSTOMER” was in a much larger font behind the current “customer”. The work “PARKING” is visible (the P A before the “Parking” and the G after Only”), and you can make out Perry’S (why the lower case for the “e” is beyond me unless it was there logo). There may have been “while shopping at” behind the current words as there appears to be a ghosted “W” beside the current “While”. I like looking at history this way.


Silver Blue…who knows that everything fades away… but some memories are meant to be captured and held on to.

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08 Mar

Let’s Go To The Movies!

By Silver Blue | 1 comment


I remember when going to the cinema didn’t mean having to take out a second mortgage on your house, when you could get popcorn and a drink (and some candy) for less than $5, and how you could just “escape” into another world for a short while.

Most of the smaller theaters these days have closed, having been consumed by the conglomerate megaplex chains of Regal, AMC, and the like.  Still, I recall when, in Newport News (or was that section Hampton? It’s RIGHT on the dividing line), in Newmarket South, there were the Newmarket Cinemas (1 & 2). They did so well that they expanded to  3 & 4, also known as the Rocking Chair Cinemas because in 3 & 4, the chairs literally were like gliders.

Times change, however. Nothing stays the same. I wanted to capture these memories before they were torn down in the name of “progress”.

Cinemas 1 & 2, boarded up and in a serious state of decay. These cinemas were in long halls, as if someone had backed up a tractor trailer and you watched inside.

A gentler memory came out of the conversion to black and white:

Then, there were theaters 3 and 4, built next door. Different format, with the rocking chairs and the theaters being put in round buildings:

Now home to the Antioch Christian Center (and Daycare), I recall seeing “First Wives’ Club” in the theater on the left.

Of course, the buildings were not egg yolk yellow then, but an off white. I’m hedging my bets that these (which were the newer of the screens) buildings long outlast the original.

Silver Blue, who wishes I’d gotten into photography, oh… about 30 years ago in order to save history.

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11 Jun

It’s the real thing…

By Silver Blue | 4 comments


First off, a note about comments: If you wish to comment (and I welcome them), you have to click on the name of the post, which will open it, and the comment box is at the bottom of the screen.

I like to travel. I love to find old buildings and capture them before the ravages of time cause us to tear them down and “renew”, for the buildings of today have no charm as the buildings of yesteryear did. That’s why when I moved back to Hampton Roads in 1980, I discovered a building that I could not believe. Then, almost overnight, it changed. Abandoned. Sold, repurposed. Altered. Then, that tenant moved out. The building sits, waiting to be destroyed. But, wait! Some of the alterations have come off over time! Quick, to the camera, before it’s gone forever….

Well, you can see SOMETHING has been covered up. But why? Perhaps it was copyrighted? Identifiable with a company or brand?

Why yes! The former Newport News Coca Cola plant, owned by the Brown Family.

Even the other side of the factory has those endcaps covered.

But not the middle! There we go! Precisely what I remember. The stone Coca-Cola bottles. In fact, everything is carved in stone here.

Though, honestly, I don’t know why the windows on this end were closed off. I don’t even know when the plant closed.

You can sort of see the holes that were drilled (look inside the B, between the g and C, and inside the final c on the bottom line) to cover up the identification on the building.

Here, the holes drilled to conceal the logos/ads are far more obvious.

The “holy grail” I was after with the camera. You can see the drill holes where the outer cover (as shown in the first two photos) was attached to conceal. You don’t see stonework like this any more.

Evelyn McCormack Brown, heiress to the local Coca Cola fortune lived in this mansion on Chesapeake Avenue in Hampton until just a few years ago. It had an asking price of about $1.2 million, and I do believe sold for close to that amount. The home is classical in appearance and overlooks the Hampton Roads harbour. (Thanks to the Brown’s Granddaughter for leaving a comment and correcting my faulty memory on Mrs. Brown’s first name!)

Before we close, however, let me show you the only remaining building to the left of the old plant…unique in its own right.

Sure, you see buildings with curves these days, but made out of REAL brick? Most of the facades these days are cast to look like brickwork, but aren’t. This is the real thing. Not sure how much longer IT will be standing, either. (The photos were shot in 2007, and I’ve not been back down there since, so that all may have been torn down already.)

Silver Blue, who is really more of a Dr. Pepper kind of guy.

(N.B.: As of early 2013, when I returned by the old plant, it’s still standing, but the covers on the endcaps (where the bottles were hidden) have finally come off, exposing all the bottles. Maybe I will be able to return to capture the entire building uncovered…. (Updated 3/23/13))

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Days of Silver Blue

May 2024