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History of Town Point Park

The first owner of the property, then known as Four Farthing Point, was Capt. Thomas Willoughby who acquired it in February 1637. Willoughby sold the site in 1644 to Thomas Watkins, after which it passed into the possession of a series of owners until 1663, when it became the property of Nicholas Wise Sr., a shipwright. Wise's son, also named Nicholas, deeded the point, along with adjoining acreage, to the trustees of Lower Norfolk County in 1682, two years after the locale had been chosen as the site of "Norfolk Towne" by the Virginia Assembly in June 1680.

Before that took place, the point was the location of a "Half Moone'' fort also authorized by the Assembly in 1667 to protect the area's tobacco planters from Dutch marauders. All traces of this early fort have long since disappeared. But as late as 1781, when the British occupied the Norfolk area during the Revolutionary War, professional soldiers of Great Britain erected another temporary fort on the same site to protect Norfolk's inner harbor. The "Town Point" promontory has since afforded a spectacular view of some of the country's most historic events.  On New Year's Day 1776, the British fleet bombarded the wharves and buildings along the waterfront and set homes afire, sending the entire town up in flames.  The hastily rebuilt city was destroyed by fire again in 1804.  

Across the harbor during the Civil War, Federal forces burned Portsmouth's Gosport Navy Yard in 1861. The following year came the infamous battle of the Monitor and Merrimac at the mouth of the James River. In the modern era, "Town Point" was transformed from a rundown collection of warehouses and wharves into a beautiful city park, reclaiming its place as the focal point of the downtown waterfront. 

Town Point Park opened in the summer of 1983 as part of a major downtown revitalization program that included the Waterside Festival Marketplace, a mile long waterfront promenade, a public marina, and improved docks for visiting tall ships and harbor cruise vessels. 

The city of Norfolk recognized that downtown Norfolk and the city landscape had changed considerably since the summer of 1983 and much needed improvements to the Norfolk's premier waterfront park would better serve the community and the guests of Norfolk. In October of 2008 Town Point Park closed her doors to the public to receive an extensive state of the art  make-over. Following renovations, the landmark park now features an enhanced layout and pathway system for access to Norfolk’s beautiful waterfront; new stage locations, lighting and sound equipment; and interactive water fountains and a lush landscape to create an urban oasis within Downtown Norfolk. 

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