Greenwich Park, Corner of North and Dinwiddie Streets
In a nod to our current “situation” (COVID-19 pandemic), this park highlights the Yellow Fever of 1855 which killed 10% of Portsmouth’s population (about 3,000 in Hampton Roads).
The house behind this park was used as an orphanage for the many children left behind as it quickly took nurses and doctors at the nearby Naval hospital. The cemetery that the sign references is two blocks west of this park, and the Butt family referenced is still a prominent family in Olde Towne.
Mr. Eric Buchanan, former resident of Olde Towne, shared, “Mr. Butt would be digging sun up to sun down. Some evenings he would be so tired that he would lie down and sleep in the last grave he dug for the day. Dean Burgees spoke in detail about him during the Steeple to Steeple tour last year during the Trinity stop. If I remember correctly Bob Butt was the first African American Sexton in the South….the plaque hangs next to where you ring the bell at Trinity Episcopal.”
You can read more about Yellow Fever in Portsmouth in Lon Wagner’s 14-chapter book “The Fever” linked here for download: “The Fever.”