Community Roots - Communities
A Brief History of Laurel Cove and the
Contributed by John O. Parmele, Jr. LCCL President 2003
The Laurel Cove community was developed in the late 1960's/early 1970's by the Lake Conrad Corporation (LCC), who purchased the land from the previous owner in 1965. The 5 models offered at the time were all located at the corner of Willowood Lane and Laurel Cove Drive, and, in 1973, sold for around $35,000. Mrs. Dorothy Roberts, wife of former TV personality and weatherman Andy Roberts, was the on-site sales representative for LCC, and worked out of the house at 1300 Willowood Ln., one of the models. Roberts Point was named for her. In 1973, the sales promotion brochure read:
"Laurel Cove - naturally
beautiful, naturally convenient, naturally superior in appointment and
"The fine accomplishments of community living achieved in Laurel Cove are the result of years of study, research, and building experience. Our builders used high quality materials, intelligent and artful design, and painstaking construction methods to make the Laurel Cove home a home you will be proud to own"
"Laurel Cove is beautiful. Built around atwo-acre wooded park and playground, Laurel Cove is bordered on two sides by tranquil, fresh water lakes, and on the third by a branch of the Lovely Lynnhaven River. Many Laurel Cove homesites are wooded."
According to a real estate article, a home on Conrad Lane that sold in 1971 for $33,000 sold again in 1977 for $55,000, and again in November 1978 for $62,000. It was quoted in the article:
"Laurel Cove was a tract development done with care and taste. There is a wide range of architecture and the models are spaced far enough apart to avoid monotony. The developer (LCC) also set the houses at different angles on the lots to good effect. The houses tend to be spacious. Their appreciation rate, for the most part, has been generous if not spectacular"
A pig farm and farm house occupied the site where the Farm Fresh shopping center now stands, and the grave of one of the deceased landowners is located in the small patch of woods adjacent to Hardees. The "original" Laurel Cove was built in three sections: the first two were from Willowood Lane back to and including Whisper Drive; the third from Whisper Drive back to the west end of Laurel Cove Drive/Trant Lake Drive. "Laurelfield" was added later.
The land Laurel Cove now sits upon was the 209-acre dairy farm owned by the Arthur E. Conrad family, who, as mentioned above, sold the land to LCC in 1965. Mr. Conrad created the 25-acre pond, now known as Lake Conrad. Conrad Lane is also named for him. This area was a plantation as far back as Colonial times. It orginally bore the patrician name of Eastwood Manor; then it became known as the Smith Farm. The original home of Eastwood Manor is believed to have resembled the historic Adam Thoroughgood house in Va. Beach
Great Neck Cove (formerly known as Hogpen Cove) is the end result of labor provided, I am told, by a German WWII P.O.W.s, who built the dam/spillway above the banks of the Lynnhaven River, where Native Americans once roamed and hunted and fished for food. The P.O.W.s were survivors of German U-boat sinkings from U.S. ships and guns just off the Atlantic Ocean shoreline in Va. Beach during the war.
A prisoner-of-war camp was located near the grounds of present day Willis-Wayside Furniture on Va. Beach Blvd. The "trustees" would work in the surrounding area for "a dollar a day", then return to the camp in the evening. They were treated very humanely, and a few of them returned to this area after the war.
During the early development stages of Laurel Cove, a jet plane crashed at the intersection of Meadowlake Road and Trant Lake Drive. Blood stains could be seen on the bricks of a house under construction at that conrner. (March 13, 1972)
One house on Meadowlake Road (on the northern side of Laurel Cove Drive) had the distinction for many years of being HAUNTED! It was believed that the house had been built over an early Native American burial ground. It's been quiet, however, for many years now (to my knowledge).
At one time, there were plans to build a retirement home where the Holy Family Church now stands, but community opposition changed that. Community opposition also stopped a bank from being built on the open area in front of the Princess Anne Memorial Park (the cemetery on Great Neck Road).
Great Neck was a hazardous 2-lane road with deep ditches on both sides in the late 1960s/early 1970s, and didn't carry a lot of traffic. There were no traffic lights the entire length of Great Neck Road from London Bridge to Shore Drive! Plans to build the Old Donation Parkway, connecting Va. Beach General Hospital to Bayside Hospital by a direct route, were cancelled once it was realized how much of the natural environment would have to be destroyed (and the costs involved) in order to build the roadway.
Great Neck Middle School used to be F.W. Cox High School (before the area became so large and the new Cox had to be built). The first graduating class at the "new Cox" was 1983, if my memory serves me. John B. Dey Elementary went through grade 7, and from there Laurel Cove children went to Lynnhaven Junior High (now Middle School) for 8th and 9th grades.
Although Laurel Cove is 30 years old and growing, we can take great PRIDE in our community because, for the most part, it is well-maintained and the homes have "curb appeal". I have seen many families come and go during my nearly 30 years in residence, and some, as well as second generation, return to the tranquility of Laurel Cove. Approximately 17 of the 354 homes in Laurel Cove are rentals. Regardless of who owns the house, everyone is part of the Laurel Cove family!
In conclusion, I encourage all residents to keep up the good work and community spirit, and Laurel Cove will continue to be one of the most attractive neighborhoods in Va. Beach for another 30 years!
F.Y.I.: The neighborhood along N. Lakeside Drive is officially known as EASTWOOD MANOR, but we are glad to have them as a part of our Laurel Cove community.
An email correction to this article - submitted July 3, 2005: The first graduating class of the new Cox was 1984.
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