Built between 1919 and 1923 for esteemed African American attorney J. Eugene Diggs, the Diggs Residence in Norfolk is significant for its owner’s steadfast, forceful civil rights activism and his legal work that secured social justice for people of color throughout the Norfolk and Hampton Roads area during four decades of the Jim Crow era. Among his accomplishments, Diggs was instrumental in efforts that led to the desegregation of southern Virginia’s public beaches and schools. Until Diggs’s death in 1959, his residence also served as a “safe place” in the region for visiting eminent African Americans including Thurgood Marshall and Carter G. Woodson, among other acclaimed black artists, politicians, and public figures. Prominently located along a major boulevard in Norfolk, his Georgian Revival house is attributed in design to African American architect Harvey N. Johnson who, in addition to other houses and churches of African Americans, designed the Crispus Attucks Theater, a legendary landmark in Norfolk’s historically and predominantly black district known as Huntersville.
Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.
VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark
Photo credit: David Edwards/DHR, 2022