Grove, Virginia

Grove, Virginia

Grove (also known locally as the Grove Community) is an unincorporated community in the southeastern portion of James City County in the Peninsula subregion of the Hampton Roads region of Virginia in the United States. Grove is located along a two-laned stretch of U.S. Route 60 east of Williamsburg's Busch Gardens Europe theme park and Exit 243 of Interstate 64 and west of Lee Hall, which is just across the Newport News city border at Skiffe's Creek. Grove is located in almost the exact center of the Historic Triangle of Colonial Virginia, comprising Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown, all linked by the Colonial Parkway. The area is one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world.

Grove borders the James River about convert|5|mi|km downstream from Jamestown near the confluence of Grove Creek, which was renamed Busch Creek in the 1970s. The area was long-occupied by the Native Americans, most recently those of the Powhatan Confederacy when the first English colonists settled there as part of Martin's Hundred in 1618. The population of Wolstenholme Towne, the administrative center of the hundred, was decimated during the Good Friday attacks throughout the Virginia Colony during the Indian Massacre of 1622. About 120 years later, work began on Carter's Grove Plantation there. After many occupants over a 200 year period, the 1755-era mansion and surrounding gardens were operated by Colonial Williamsburg for about 40 years. During that time, the original site and remains of ill-fated Wolstenholme Towne were discovered by archaeologists in 1976. (Carter's Grove Plantation was returned to private ownership and occupancy as a residence in 2007).

Grove saw quick growth in population twice in the first half of the 20th century as large tracts of land and entire communities were taken nearby along the north side of the Peninsula for military use, creating the present-day US Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, the Cheatham Annex complex, and Camp Peary. Many of the families uprooted chose to relocate to Grove, which was close by. During much of the 20th century, Camp Wallace, a satellite facility of nearby Fort Eustis, was located in a portion of Grove. Grove currently includes residential areas, churches, neighborhood retail businesses, a nursing home, day care facilities, a modern community center and a magnet school of the Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools (WJC). As of early 2008, many new homes were under construction and along the southeastern edge, many sites for industrial purposes have been attractive to developers, where the expansion on vacant land was ongoing.


Grove includes the narrowest portion of James City County, bordering the James River to the south and York County to the north. With the exception of lowlands near the river, most of Grove was originally heavily wooded, and much of it still is.

Grove Creek and Skiffe's Creek, each tributaries of the James River, provide local drainage. The latter also constitutes the eastern border of Grove (and the county), which adjoins the Lee Hall area of the independent city of Newport News.

The former Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) runs along the northern edge of Grove. It is now part of the Peninsula Subdivision of CSX Transportation.

Early history: 17th through 19th centuries

Native Americans

For one thousand years or more, the Native Americans in the area prior to the arrival of Spanish and English settlers in the 16th and 17th centuries were semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes. A major village is believed located somewhere nearby, although the site has not been identified. The site of another village, Chiskiack, was a few miles to the north.

At the time the English settlers established Jamestown in 1607, the Powhatan Confederacy included most natives in the area, although there were some other small unaffiliated tribes in the area. A chief named Wahunsunacock (also known as Chief Powhatan) created his powerful empire in the late 16th and early 17th centuries by conquering or affiliating by agreement with approximately 30 tribes covering much of southeastern Virginia, which he called Tenakomakah. A capital of this confederacy, Werowocomoco, was located near the north bank of the York River in present-day Gloucester County, about convert|15|mi|km as the crow flies from Grove.

By the mid-17th century, the Native Americans remaining in the area were primarily living on reservations north of the York River, or were assimilating into the general population with the European colonists and freed slaves of African American heritage.

Martin's Hundred, Wolstenholme Towne

The Grove Community was probably named for nearby Grove Creek, which drains into the James River about convert|6|mi|km east (downstream) of Jamestown. Grove Wharf at the confluence of Grove Creek and the river is shown on some very early maps of Virginia.

Initially, the English of the Virginia Company of London chose Jamestown to begin their settlement of the Virginia Colony, arriving in 1607 in a fleet of three ships commanded by Christopher Newport. ("See main article Jamestown, Virginia)"

After five very difficult years, the new colony gradually began expanding, and plantations were established along the James River, largely to grow non-native strains of tobacco, introduced and successfully exported in 1612 by colonist John Rolfe, who later married Pocahontas, daughter of Chief Powhatan.

About convert|7|mi|km downstream from Jamestown on the same north bank of the river, just east of Grove Creek, the Grove area was originally settled by the English in 1618 as part of Martin's Hundred, a proprietary plantation of over 20,000 acres (80 km²) which was an enterprise of the Martin's Hundred Society, a London-based investment group operating under the auspices of the Virginia Company of London. There, not far from the riverfront, the new Wolstenholme Towne, the Martin's Hundred administrative center, was established.

Following what seemed a promising start, the majority of the population of Wolstenholme Towne, including men, women and children was largely wiped out by the Indian Massacre of 1622, one of the largest single locations of loss of life by settlers during the attacks. Although rebuilt a few years later, and protected by the cross-peninsula palisade to the west anchored by Middle Plantation and completed in 1634, Wolstenholme Towne was abandoned by around 1643, and the site was lost until 1976 (see below).

Martin's Hundred Parish Church was established by the Church of England, and served the area including Wolstenholme Towne. It was later combined with Yorkhampton Parish in adjacent York County.

Royal colony, creation of shires (counties)

The privately owned Virginia Company lost its charter in 1624, and Virginia became a royal colony. In 1634, the English Crown created eight shires (i.e., counties) in the colony of Virginia, with a total population of approximately 5,000 inhabitants. James City Shire, as well as the James River and Jamestown which had been named earlier, took its name from King James I, the father of the then-king, Charles I. About 1642-43, the name of the James City Shire was changed to James City County.

Slavery, freedom

James City County holds the dubious distinction of receiving the first slaves imported to Virginia. Beginning in 1619, the first black men men were brought to the colony as indentured servants. Increasingly toward the end of the 17th century, the blacks to follow were placed into lifetime servitude, rather than under a period of indenture. Large numbers of slaves from Africa were brought by Dutch and British ships to the Virginia Colony. On the large tobacco plantations, as chattel (owned property), they replaced indentured servants (who were only obligated to work for an agreed period of time) as field labor, as well as serving as household and skilled workers. As slaves, they were not working by mutual agreement, nor for a limited period of time. Even their offspring also were born into what was later called the "peculiar institution" of slavery.

However, even early on, there were free African Americans, as the first indentured servants completed their contracts. Some individual slaves also began obtaining their freedom. This was usually accomplished by escape, through their own enterprise, or through manumission, which was essentially the benevolence of their owners, as family-type ties grew between some of the slaves and owners.

Known as freedmen, these men and women lived at various locations throughout the area until the mass emancipation of all of the slaves took place during the years of the American Civil War (1861-1865). Despite Virginia's secession from the Union in 1861, Fort Monroe, at the eastern tip of the Virginia Peninsula, never fell out of Union hands, and during the course of the War, became a gathering point for many slaves seeking their freedom. Many heard President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation read under the Emancipation Oak, now on the grounds of Hampton University.

After the War, many freedmen settled in inland areas of the Peninsula, either as landowners, tenant farmers, or renters who worked as watermen. While the southern side of the peninsula along the James River had long been occupied by plantations, the northern side along the York River west of Yorktown had not been as heavily developed. Many freedmen moved into this area, establishing close-knit communities, and entire towns such as Magruder.

Carter's Grove

Over 100 years after Wolstenholme Towne was abandoned, Carter's Grove Plantation was built on part of the Martin's Hundred land for Carter Burwell, son of Elizabeth Carter Burwell and her husband, Nathaniel Burwell. Carter Burwell was the grandson of wealthy plantation and landowner Robert "King" Carter (of Lancaster County), who had acquired his nickname of "King" for his wealth and business practices, and was one of the largest landowners in the Virginia Colony of his era.

King Carter in bequeathing the land upon his death in 1732 required that it forever after be known as "Carter's Grove". This name likely was a combination of the Carter family name, which carried status as one of those considered First Families of Virginia, and Grove Creek, which runs along the property's western border, and flows into the James River at its edge.

The new plantation home, completed in 1755, could also be the source of the place name of the Grove Community, which was established many years later on immediately adjacent land. The Carter's Grove mansion was occupied and renovated by a series of owners, the last major changes being of the late 1920s era. The last private owner died around 1964, and the plantation moved into philanthropic ownership.

Under ownership of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (CW) since 1969, Carter's Grove mansion is currently furnished in many period pieces primarily of the 19th, and early 20th centuries. Some of these were at that time already antiques acquired in the 1920s from an auction at Westover Plantation, long the home of the Byrd family.

On the grounds, near the river, the long-lost site of Wolstenholme Towne was located on Carter's Grove Plantation in 1976, where a historic archaeological dig was documented by noted archaeologist Ivor Noel Hume.

A landmark in the Grove Community, Carter's Grove Plantation had been open to the public for tours of the mansion, recreated slave quarters, and also featured a partially recreated Wolstenholme Towne.

In 2003, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation made a decision to concentrate on attractions closer to the Historic Area near downtown Williamsburg and closed the facility to the public. In addition to the distance factor, the Carter's Grove Mansion and furnishings and the Wolstenholme Towne site did not fit well with CW's primary goals. Closer to the Historic Area, another interpretive site for the African American experience related to CW was developed.

Carter's Grove continues to be maintained by the Foundation and is used for support purposes. The Foundation has indicated that it is receptive to new ownership provided the site continues to be used for similar non-commercial purposes.

Carter's Grove Country Road, formerly offered a one-way narrow but paved and bucolic link to the Historic Area of Colonial Williamsburg. However, it was damaged during Hurricane Isabel in late 2003, and has been closed to traffic since then as well. (The primary access to the plantation on U.S. Route 60 was reopened shortly after the storm, although the property remains closed to the public).

Location, early nature of community

The Grove Community is located about a mile inland and parallel to the riverfront adjacent to the large Carter's Grove plantation property. It stretches approximately convert|4|mi|km along U.S. Route 60, known locally as Pocahontas Trail. Until 1918, the Grove Community was lightly populated, with mostly farmers and fishermen by trade. According to a state atlas, in 1895, Grove had a population of 37 persons and its own post office.

Grove Station on the new C&O Railroad

Nearby, Grove Station was established by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) under the leadership of Collis P. Huntington. The C&O's Peninsula Extension was built through the area from its previous eastern terminus in Richmond in 1881 to reach the coal piers and the new city of Newport News on the generally ice-free harbor of Hampton Roads. Although a number of other railroad stations were also established in James City County and the adjacent area, the primary purpose of the railroad was through coal traffic, a traffic pattern that continues in the 21st century under C&O successor CSX Transportation.

Grove Station is long gone; however, other C&O railroad stations to the east at Lee Hall and to the west at Williamsburg are extant, with the latter still receiving intercity passenger rail service from Amtrak. Another historic C&O station, built in 1908 for Norge, has been preserved and was relocated in 2006 to the site of the Croaker Branch of the [ Williamsburg Regional Library] .

Growth in 20th century

In the first half of the 20th century, Grove grew quickly twice as additional residents chose to relocate there from two large military reservations established by the U.S. Navy in adjacent York County, which took the land they had formerly occupied. Many new homes were built and amenities including electricity, running water and sidewalks were added.

Relocations from "the Reservation" and Lackey area

Prior to World War I, many African Americans lived just west of the current unincorporated town of Lackey in York County, where they (and their ancestors) had obtained land as freedmen and former slaves or rented under sharecropping arrangements and established homesteads, particularly after the American Civil War. This close-nit community, along the old Yorktown-Williamsburg Road, was sometimes called informally "the Reservation", as it had been largely settled simultaneously by freedmen.

As the United States became more involved in World War I in 1917, the U.S. Navy determined that it needed to establish a supply and munitions base near Yorktown adjacent to the York River. Under Executive Order of President Woodrow Wilson, the US Navy took a sizable piece of land to create the needed military base, initially known as a mine depot. [] Many homes were taken, as were three churches also displaced. As the land was taken to became part of what is now known as the Naval Weapons Station Yorktown in 1918, the residents who were mostly farmers or fishermen, some owners, other tenants, scattered to other portions of York County, and nearby Williamsburg. A few crossed the York River and settled in Gloucester County. Perhaps the largest portion chose nearby James City County, and a substantial number relocated to Grove, which was close by, but south of the Navy land.

John Pack Roberts, who was born in approximately 1860, was a farmer and self-taught man who educated himself in the law and became a magistrate often known as "Judge Roberts". He is credited by historians as being instrumental in the growth of the Grove Community. He did this by helping some of those displaced from "the Reservation" obtain financial compensation from the federal government. The Grove area is now part of the Roberts Magisterial District of the James City County, perhaps in honor of Judge Roberts or other members of his family.

Camp Wallace

Camp Abraham Eustis (which became Fort Eustis in 1923) was established in 1918 in neighboring Warwick County encompassing Mulberry Island and some adjacent mainland. A few miles upstream, also along the James River, a satellite facility, Camp Wallace, was established in 1918 as the Upper Firing Range for artillery training. Consisting of 30 barracks, six storehouses, and eight mess halls [ ] , it was located on convert|160|acre|km2 in Grove west of Carter's Grove and south of U.S. Route 60. Camp Wallace was the first site of the Army's aerial tramway.

In 1971, the U.S. Army agreed to a land swap with Anheuser-Busch in return for a larger parcel which is located directly across Skiffe's Creek from Fort Eustis (adjacent to the southeastern edge of the Greenmount Industrial Park). Along with land previously owned by Colonial Williamsburg, the former Camp Wallace land became part of a massive development. [ [ Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg Virginia (VA) ] ] Nearby, the Busch Gardens Europe theme park opened in 1975, as well as a large brewery, and the Kingsmill Resort. [ [ Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg Virginia (VA) ] ]

Highway success

With the coming of the automobile as a common form of travel in the early 20th century, attention was directed to improving roads. As part of the Good Roads Movement, the new road which became U.S. Route 60 was routed through Grove from Williamsburg and bridging Skiffe's Creek into Warwick County to Lee Hall. This routing was chosen rather than following a competing route via Halstead's Point in York County (now on the base of the US Naval Weapons Station Yorktown).

Earlier, the east-west road which became U.S. 60 was State Route 9. SR 9 was renumbered as State Route 39 in 1923, and became U.S. 60 in 1926 when it was routed through Grove.

Two-laned U.S. 60 continues to form the main thoroughfare through the largely residential and neighborhood business section of Grove, paralleling four-laned State Route 143 and Interstate 64.

Relocations from Magruder

During World War II, another small town, Magruder, located about convert|3|mi|km north of Williamsburg in York County, and hundreds of acres of surrounding land were taken to establish a U.S. Navy base for Seabee training initially known as Camp Allen, which later became known as Camp Peary. As had been the case with the Naval Weapons Station during World War I, this community was also largely populated by African Americans landowners and tenants, as well as businesses and a church.

Once again, the Grove Community grew with relocated households. At least one church, Mt. Gilead Baptist Church, was relocated from Magruder, and rebuilt along U.S. 60 in Grove.

Modern times

In modern times, the Grove community, currently consisting of about 1,100 families, and a scattering of schools, churches, and retail and industrial businesses, is located on a rural postal delivery route and carries the mailing address of Williamsburg, Virginia 23185, although that historic city itself is located about convert|5|mi|km to the west. Between Williamsburg and Grove are Anheuser-Busch industries and developments, including the company's Williamsburg brewery, Busch Gardens Europe theme park, an office park, and the Kingsmill resort and planned community.


Grove is largely a bedroom community. Housing in Grove is generally considered more affordable than in many other areas of the fast-growing James City County, and many families have lived there for generations. There is combination of older detached single-family homes situated on lots, with many dating to the two world war periods of rapid growth, and a number of much newer ones, which are both interspersed in older neighborhoods and in several much newer subdivisions. There are several large condominium projects and several mobile home parks, including two larger ones which feature modern amenities such as underground wiring, curbs and gutters, paved driveways, street lighting, and community playgrounds.

As of 2007, Grove was seeing some additional residential development in the form of a new townhouse project, and many new detached single family homes. While the mobile home parks are not expanding, in some instances, new or much newer mobile homes are replacing older ones on the existing lots. Throughout Grove, there are very few vacant lots for additional mobile homes.

Community facilities

James River Elementary School and James River Community Center are co-located in a modern complex. The school is a magnet school of the Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools (WJC) which offers the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme, one of only five such schools in Virginia. []

There are also 5 churches, a nursing home, 2 day care centers, a fire station, and Grove Christian Outreach Center (GCOC), a weekday agency which is affiliated with Grove Community Church. Staffed by volunteers, GCOC assists with family needs and coordination of community resources such as the local food bank.


Grove includes a small retail strip at its eastern end, the Windy Hill Shops, which includes a convenience store with gasoline. There is also a free-standing 7-11 store and a campground, all on the north side of U.S. Route 60.


Near Grove's eastern edge, on the south side of U.S. Route 60, the county's James River Enterprise Zone, an Urban Enterprise Zone is located. The 5.6 square mile (15 km²) area contains 2,400 acres (9.7 km²) planned and zoned for industrial uses. James City County is actively seeking additional industrial business in this prime area of the county. The sites within a designated "enterprise zone" offer state and local incentives to businesses that locate in those zones, invest and create jobs.

Since the James River Enterprise Zone's inception in 1996, James River Commerce Center and Greenmount industrial parks have added tenants such as a Ball Manufacturing plant, an aluminum can plant which supplies Anheuser-Busch's Williamsburg brewery. A distribution center for Wal-Mart and a Haynes furniture warehouse are also located there. Recently, a masonry supply firm and a Volvo equipment rental facility have each announced plans to establish facilities, and Carter Machinery Company, a Caterpillar dealership with 17 locations in Virginia and West Virginia, announced in May 2007 that is building a new sales and service center on a 23 acre site. A large property adjacent to the James River which formerly housed BASF is currently vacant and other additional sites are also available for more development. [] [,0,2984439.story?coll=va-news]

U.S. Route 60 relocation project

For several years in the early 21st century, a major project of James City County officials and Supervisor Bruce Goodson, who represents the Roberts Magisterial District, has been to improve US Route 60 between Grove and Newport News to provide better (faster and more direct) access to Interstate 64 from the industrial sites in Grove which generate a considerable volume of truck traffic, and reduce the same on the existing roadway.

Access for the industrial traffic to I-64 currently requires a drive of about convert|4|mi|km in either direction on two-laned sections of U.S. 60 at non-highway speeds through residential areas, sharing the road with local traffic and school buses serving either the James River Elementary School's county-wide magnet program or alternatively, the large elementary school in the Lee Hall community in neighboring Newport News, as well as neighborhoods along the route.

In June 2007, Virginia's Commonwealth Transportation Board approved a major portion of the funding needed for the U.S. Route 60 relocation project. The relocated divided highway will begin on its western end near the current intersection of Blow Flats Road and, on a new alignment, will cross through the Greenmount Industrial Park to reach the Newport News city limits. There, a new crossing of Skiffe's Creek will be built, and the remainder of the roadway will continue on a new alignment and effectively bypass the two lane portion of U.S. Route 60 through the historic Lee Hall community, rejoining the current highway near the cloverleaf intersection of Fort Eustis Boulevard, where there is access four-laned access close by to exit 250 of Interstate 64 as well as an extant four-laned section of U.S. Route 60 which begins there and extends to the east as Warwick Boulevard. In a separate project, portions of Warwick Boulevard east of Fort Eustis in Newport News are being widened to six lanes.

A similar roads issue was earlier visited in the 1930s, when the current parallel State Route 143 (Merrimack Trail) was built as part of a four-laned through-route alternative to U.S. 60 for increasing volumes of east-west through traffic in the area. Once again, plans have been made for the two-laned bucolic nature of Route 60 through the Grove and Lee Hall communities to be preserved without the major impact a widening project would have upon these historic communities.

Public transportation

Although there is little retail or hospitality employment in Grove, especially with Carter's Grove Plantation currently closed (since 2003), many residents use the Williamsburg Area Transport (WAT) public bus system or its complimentary paratransit service to reach employment, shopping, and other business at adjacent Busch Gardens Europe, in downtown Williamsburg, and at businesses along the way such as the Kingsmill resort and shops, and hotels, motels, and restaurants in the Fort Magruder vicinity, or transfer to other routes in the WAT network through the system's hub at the Williamsburg Transportation Center. Amtrak, Greyhound Lines, and Trailways services as well as taxicabs and rental cars are also located there.

The WAT bus route serving Grove leaves the Williamsburg Transportation Center on the hour and runs along U.S. Route 60 through the entire length of Grove from Williamsburg and continues east to serve the Wal-Mart distribution center, a Haynes furniture warehouse in the growing Green Mount industrial park, and provide an hourly connection six days a week to the massive Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) system at the western edge of Newport News at Lee Hall. The WAT bus stops on a side street adjacent to the local Food Lion and other stores, returning to Williamsburg via Grove with departures on the half hour.

The HRT system covers most of the other cities of Hampton Roads, with extensive networks in highly urbanized areas of Newport News, Hampton, and Norfolk. Some heavily patronized HRT routes trace their heritage to street railway lines started in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Notable residents and sites

* Dr. J. Blaine "Jim" Blayton (1905-2002) was a prominent African American physician in the Williamsburg area who lived in Grove. Dr. Blayton built a 14-bed hospital in Williamsburg in the early 1950s because, at that time of racial segregation in Virginia, local African Americans were only allowed beds in the basement of the only other existing hospital in town, which was owned and operated by a white physician. Dr. Blayton was also a civic leader. A residential facility for senior citizens in downtown Williamsburg was named the Blayton Building in his honor.

* In 1963, Oscar H. Blayton (son of Dr. J. Blaine Blayton), also of Grove, became the first African American to attend the College of William and Mary as an undergraduate. He graduated from Yale University Law School in 1977, and established a law practice in Williamsburg.

* In the mid 1970s, just west of Grove between U.S. Route 60 and the James River, the Busch Gardens Europe theme park, a large brewery, and the Kingsmill planned community and resort were developed by Anheuser-Busch Corporation. The earlier Kingsmill Plantation was located along the river just west of Grove Creek and Carter's Grove Plantation.

* Grove Creek Natural Area is located on private property, west of Carter's Grove Plantation. Although not open to the public, rare plants are located there. The natural area is monitored by members of the John Clayton Chapter of the Virginia Natural Plant Society.


* A small but historic section of the northwestern edge of Grove is physically located in York County and is listed on that county's Historical Resources Survey (as are the former sites of the lost towns of Lackey and Magruder).

* Magruder Avenue in Grove was presumably named in recognition of the resettlement of many residents there from the former town of Magruder during World War II.

* Mt. Gilead Baptist Church, relocated from Magruder in 1943, maintains cemeteries at its new and former locations. Although access to the base at Camp Peary is under highly restrictive security, families and others from the church may enter to visit and tend to the old cemetery with special permission.

* Privately-owned Carter's Grove Country Road, a narrow, bucolic paved roadway which led convert|8|mi|km from its namesake through woods and swamps the "back way" to Colonial Williamsburg was closed after damage during Hurricane Isabel in 2003. It is no longer a through route.

See also

* Lost counties, cities and towns of Virginia
* Locust Grove, Virginia
* Sugar Grove, Virginia



* McCartney, Martha W. (1977) "James City County: Keystone of the Commonwealth"; James City County, Virginia; Donning and Company; ISBN 0-89865-999-X


* [ "Cast Down Your Buckets Where You Are"] An Ethnohistorical Study of the African-American Community on the Lands of the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station 1865-1918
* [ James City County Virginia official website - history section]


External links

* [ James City County] (official website)
* [ Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools]
* [ James River Elementary School] magnet school in Grove
* [ Williamsburg Area Transport] public bus and paratransit service
* [ Williamsburg Regional Library]
* [ Grove Christian Outreach Center]
* [ Grove Creek Natural Area, Virginia Natural Plant Society]
* [ Skiffe's Creek watershed]

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