532 Mowbray Arch


House Specs

Construction Pics

"Neighborly" Concerns


Street Sign


Brief History of the Lot

The lot at 532 Mowbray Arch was platted as a building lot when Ghent began in the early 1890s (see map of Ghent in 1900). In 1908 George H. Barrett purchased the lot to build a house on it for his family. Mr. Barrett had already contracted for the utility hookups when he suddenly died before the work on his house could begin.

Brick garages then occupied the lot until they were demolished in the early 1960s. Some time after that, renowned local architect Henry V. Shriver purchased the lot with the intention of building a spec house on it, but that house remained unrealized until his death in October, 2011. In April, 2012, Mr. Shriver's estate sold the lot to its present owners, who immediately began the process of building a house for themselves on it.

Below is a photo of the vacant lot at 532 Mowbray Arch just before construction was finally able to begin in May, 2013 after all preliminary requirements of the City of Norfolk for building in the Ghent Historic District had been met:


Early Plat Map of Ghent

Map of Ghent, circa 1900. Note that the long, narrow lot (highlighted in yellow) that is now 532 Mowbray Arch was originally platted as a standard-size building lot, roughly the same dimensions and proportions of practically ever other lot in the neighborhood:



Old Masonry Garages

Eight brick garages once stood on the corner lot that is now 532 Mowbray Arch. These garages fronted on Mill Street and spanned the lot from end to end. They were built in the early twentieth century and and were demolished in the early 1960s. The west side of the westernmost garage can be seen in the photo below from 1959. The former townhouses at 530 Mowbray Arch and the original single-family house at 526 Mowbray Arch (with its gabled roof and Palladian third-floor window) can also be seen in this photo:

Old Garage


Excavation for the foundation for the new house at 532 Mowbray Arch unearthed the remains of the brick foundations and floors of the old garages (the timber piles you see in the photo were driven for the new house to be built):



Portions of one of the old masonry foundations:

Old Foundation


Existing Original House at 542 Mowbray Arch

Built in the early 1900s on the opposite corner of Mowbray Arch and Mill Street. The architecture of the new house at 532 Mowbray Arch blends nicely with it:

542 Mowbray Arch


Original Houses at 530 Mowbray Arch

Below is a photo of the three original townhouses at 530 Mowbray Arch. These townhouses were built in 1907 and demolished in 1977. The single-family house currently occupying the three original lots (see the inset photo) was built in 1979. Elements of the original townhouses' stately period architecture can be found in the existing original house at 542 Mowbray Arch. Some of these elements have been incorporated in the new house at 532 Mowbray Arch:




Below is a photo of the adjoining townhouses after their front porches were removed. Note the level of the first floors, 7 feet or more above grade (as indicated by the 12 or more steps leading up to the first floors) — a prudent measure considering their location at a dip in the waterfront street. The roofs of these townhouses appear to have peaked at 42 feet or more above grade:


The left townhouse, which was numbered 532 Mowbray Arch:



This photo of the current single-family house occupying the three lots (each 25 feet wide) at 530 Mowbray Arch was taken on May 6, 1979 during the sprawling house's construction. A week later its bricks were painted. Considering that the house is situateded on "the Dip," a few extra blocks of elevation under the first floor might have been a good idea:

530 Mowbray Arch


The Lot's First Purchase

Document describing the purchase on May 30, 1908 of the southeast corner lot at Mowbray and Mill (now numbered 532 Mowbray Arch) by George H. Barrett. Mr. Barrett had intended to build a house there himself. He had already contracted for the utility connections, prior to construction, when he died on October 12, 1908. Just over 100 years later, there's finally a house on the lot:

1908 Property Sale


The new house at sunset: