Touring Olde Towne: PATH of HISTORY self-guided tour
With your imagination as your companion, you can stand today at the intersection of High and Court Streets and inhabit one of several worlds: a 21st-Century world, where the Portsmouth Art and Cultural Center, TCC Visual Arts Center, Commodore Theatre and an array of restaurants and shops are all within a short walk; or a mid-20th-Century world, where the Famous department store (now TCC) stood by as traffic rolled toward the Portsmouth waterfront and the Norfolk ferry; or a 19th-Century world, where today’s PACC was the 1846 Courthouse; or the 18-Century world, which saw the founding of the Town of Portsmouth itself by Col. William Crawford. Crawford established the intersection as the town’s center, intending its four corners to host a church (now Trinity Episcopal Church), a jail, a courthouse (now the 1846 Courthouse/PACC) and a market (today, check out PortsEvents’ Farmers’ Market from May through November).
Today, you can walk the same shady sidewalks of Olde Towne that were trod by Lord Dumore, the Marquis de Lafayette, Benedict Arnold, President Andrew Jackson and others as you pass an extensive collection of 18th and 19 century homes. Or, you can walk the stretch of seawall which extends from Mile Marker Zero on the Inland Waterway, past the Visitors’ Center and North Ferry Landing on Bill Deal Street, past the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum and the High Street Ferry Landing, ending at the Ocean Marine Yacht Center, near the nTelos Wireless Pavilion and the Railroad Museum of Virginia.
When you find yourself back on High Street you’ll find that the 21st century has lots to offer everyone, from restaurants and shops to the Children’s Museum of Virginia, the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, the Commodore Theatre and more. If a self-guided walking tour suits your fancy, stop at the Visitors’ Center at the North Ferry Landing on Bill Deal Street and pick up a free Path of History Self-Guided Tour guide, or just click HERE. Other destinations and information can be found at visitportsva.com.
In Olde Towne you can park your car just once – free after 6pm and on weekends – and enjoy walking to museums, restaurants and shops. There’s even an historic, art deco movie theatre where you can enjoy dinner and a drink from your private table as you enjoy a first-run film with state-of-the art sound and digital projection. If you like, you can walk to a ferry stop and ride a paddle-wheeled ferry to Norfolk and back.