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Cedar Hall papers and Vance/Allen architectural drawings

Identifier: MSS-15730

Scope and Contents

This collection of Cedar Hall papers and Vance/Allen architectural drawings of about 17 drawings, 100 items, one half-size legal document box, and .04 cubic feet contains information about the Darling family, and their historic home, Cedar Hall.


  • Creation: 1900-1940

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restricitons.

Biographical / Historical

Cedar Hall,home of James Sands Darling I, (1832-1900) his wife, Mary Anne Daulman Darling (1835-1905) and his son Frank Wilkinson Darling (1865-1941), in Hampton, Virginia, was on the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission. Located on 4400 Victoria Boulevard in a turn-of-the-century streetcar suburb on Virginia's Peninsula, it was originally laid out by James S. Darling as a complement to his newly constructed electric railway. The area's first house was erected prior to 1895 and the development was virtually complete by the second decade of this century. Since the houses in the area were constructed in consecutively poplular modes (i.e. Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, and American Foursquare) during an era of aggressive eclecticism, the district's architectural cohesiveness is established through use of common building materials, similarity of scale among structures, and mutually sympathetic exterior color schemes. In all probability three of the structures are products of the students of the Hampton Institute Trade School. These dwellings were a testament to early 20th-century efforts to imporve the social and economic status of Blacks and Native Americans by means of a liberal education and training in the manual arts. Victoria Boulevard was often associated with James S. Darling who in 1886 purchased several parcels of land that were once part of the 18th-century plantation known as "Little England".

In 1888 the land was subdivided and offered for sale. No immediate development occurred. James S. Darling I was an entrepreneur from New York who fortuitously arrived in Hampton in 1866 with a schooner carryiing a cargo of lumber. Hampton had been virtually destroyed by the Civil War and Darling offered his services and lumber for house building. He soon built his own lumber yard and grist mill. By 1879 he also owned a menhaden fish oil factory. A storm subsequently destroyed his factory and forced him into bankruptcy and another field of endeavor: the oyster business. By 1884 Darling was one of the largest oyster merchants in the United States. With 350 acres of oysters under cultivation, Darling was the founder of the wholesale oyster industry in Hampton. His son, Frank Wilkinson Darling partnered with him in the oyster business. Frank Darling became a prominent citizen of Hampton, a member of the committee to bring Langley Field to Hampton, one of the organizers and founders of the Chamberlin Hotel, and the Old Dominion Land Company, President of the Bank Hampton, member of many boards including the Dixie Hospital, Citizens National Bank, Hampton Institute, Chatham Hall, Peake Industrial School for Girls, Covington House for Boys, State Board of Health, and the Hamtpton City council. He married Mary "Mollie" Gorton from Richmond, Vermont in 1892 and had a son, James Sands Darling II in 1899.

Taken in part from the Hampton History Museum website and the Virginia Historic Landmark

Joseph McArthur Vance, a westerner who earned his architecture degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1891, worked briefly for a Boston firm, and came to Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1894 for the work on the Berkshire County Saving Bank. He designed some of the most notable buildings in Pittsfield and lived there until his death in 1948. He partnered with Francis Richmond Allen (1843-1931) who was also a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Allen graduated from Amherst College in 1865 and studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris in 1878. At different times he had partnerships with Herbert P. Kenway and Charles Collens with offices in Boston and New York. Seemingly Darling hired Vance and Allen to construct Cedar Hall since there are 17 architectural drawings pertaining to the home in this collection.

Taken in part from and


0.2 Cubic Feet (6 folders, 17 architectural drawings in two oversize folders)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged by correspondence, papers, photographs, printed, and architectural drawings

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was purchased from Marc Selvaggio Books by the Small Special Collections at the University of Virginia Library in 2013.

Cedar Hall papers and Allen/Vance architectural drawings
Ellen Welch
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States