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Strategies known as “placemaking” are designed to celebrate the local features, community assets, and inherent potential of a location by amplifying its unique character. In Norfolk, our placemaking strategy aims to weave together again the St. Paul’s area’s existing cultural public assets and reimagine them to preserve and develop more resilient amenities and distinct neighborhood character. We’ll do that by placemaking a cultural trail as part of the new Kindred community.

Before Tidewater Gardens was built in the 1950s, Church Street and the surrounding area was home to a thriving but segregated African American community bustling with commerce, energy, entertainment and life. The remarkable history, resilience and cultural contributions of the people who live there will be forever preserved through the “St. Paul’s Cultural Trail” — a story-filled walking trail of historical markers, public artwork, and educational exhibits that celebrate the people, places and culture that have shaped the St. Paul’s area for generations.

Preserving the past for future generations

The St. Paul’s Cultural Trail will celebrate the area’s historic, social and cultural achievements through a series of markers and exhibits throughout the community. Following are a few examples.

Historic Church Street

In the 30s and 40s, Church Street was known as “Norfolk’s Harlem,” a vibrant residential, business and social hub for Norfolk’s 44,000 segregated African Americans.

Attucks Theater

Designed by African American architect Harvey Johnson and opened in 1919, the beautifully restored Attucks Theater once drew a Who’s Who list of legendary performers, from Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald to Count Basie and Cab Calloway.

The Basilica of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception

The Basilica of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception is the oldest parish community in the Catholic Diocese of Richmond and is often referred to as “The Mother Church of Tidewater Virginia.” The original church was built in 1842, but was destroyed by fire in 1856, rendering the building unfunctional for use as a church. In 1858, the present church building was erected. It was dedicated to Mary of the Immaculate Conception. African American Catholics began attending St. Mary in 1886, when a portion of the choir loft was reserved for them. Today, St. Mary’s is a vibrant, predominately African American worship community offering numerous ministries and outreach programs.

The Basilica of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church

Meet the St. Paul’s Cultural and Public Art

Master Planning Committee

The St. Paul’s Cultural Trail was conceived with active involvement of neighborhood organizations, universities, and residents. The St. Paul’s Cultural Trail and Public Art Master Planning Committee was established and met monthly over the course of a year and a half to provide input, conduct research and identify potential places and topics for the trail. Committee members include:

Hattie Green

St. Paul’s Resident

Barbara Hamm Lee


Claudette Woodhouse

Former St. Paul’s resident, educator with Norfolk Public Schools

Marcia McGill

Department of Housing and Community Development

Katie White

Department of Housing and Community Development

Deirdre Love

Teens with a Purpose, St. Paul’s Advisory Committee

Will Speidel

Parks and Rec Landscape Architect

Tara Johnson

St. Paul’s Resident

Tara Saunders

ODU Real Estate, St. Paul’s Advisory Committee

Chalae Johnson

St. Paul’s Resident

Karen Rudd

Norfolk Arts

Solomon Isekeije

NSU Fine Arts

Zachary Robinson

Urban Designer & Architect

Ramona Austin

Public Art Commission, Planning Commission

Khalil Riddick

Local Artist

Peter Eudenbach

ODU Fine Arts, Public Art Commission

Dr. Susan Perry

Department of Housing and Community Development

Derek Eley

Public Art Commission

Rob Pappas

Norfolk Housing and Redevelopment Authority

Tracy Clark

Don’t Duck History

Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander, Chair 

NSU History & Joseph Jenkins Roberts Center for African Diaspora Studies

Narissa Bond


Shelly Mitchell

St. Paul’s resident, accountant with nearby business

Raven Bland

Neighborhood Development

Natalie McCarthy

SGA consulting (Blue-Greenway design)