Why is it called Church Point?

Odd name for a neighborhood, don’t you think?

1879 survey of Lynnhaven Bay and Lynnhaven River
This 1879 map of the Lynnhaven River clearly shows two spots known as “Church Point.”

The area of the current Church Point neighborhood was known as “Church Point” long before houses were built there.

Church Point is so named because it was the original site of Old Donation Church.  Around 1639, Adam Thoroughgood donated approximately 200 acres for the church, and the land surrounding the church was deeded in perpetuity to its pastor so he could grow his own food.¹

At some point towards the end of the 17th century, the colonists tried to divert water from the Lynnhaven River.  In a very early audition for Kevin Costner’s Waterworld, the water got the best of them, and flooded their nice new church, which apparently stood in the middle of the water for a good long time before toppling over.  This 1930 road map says that the original church was still standing in the middle of the river until 1855.  The name “Church Point” survived the 17th century; the church did not.

The 200+ acres surrounding the church were eventually acquired by a Norfolk businessman named Charles F. Burroughs Sr in 1933.  He owned the Church Point land and neighboring Bayville Farm, which he turned into a dairy (to obtain his own milk and cheese, because he thought his children would catch tuberculosis from unsafe “city milk”).²


Milking time at the Bayville Dairy, 1940. Courtesy of the Norfolk Public Library.

During World War II, the Bayville Farms dairy at Church Point got a new kind of labor force.  The German POW kind.  Sent out from Camp Ashby in Thalia to the southeast, thousands of Nazi prisoners became free labor to the Hampton Roads war effort.  Some of them worked at the farms at Church Point.

After the war, Church Point stayed in family hands until 1992, when it was sold for residential development.  Nowadays, Church Point is home to 383 unique homes.  In homage to the memory of the original church and Adam Thoroughgood, “The streets were named from different parish churches in the Tidewater area and from crewmembers of the Adam Thoroughgood Grant.”

¹ I hope he liked fish.

² Considering the epidemic raging across America at the time, he may have had the right idea.

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