Hall Place 100th birthday set

Published 10:02 pm Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Hall Place neighborhood, quietly standing south of downtown, harbors some of Suffolk’s most fascinating history.

Many of the first factory workers who helped build Planters Peanuts to international recognition built their homes in Hall Place. Many of those homes still stand today. The community also was the home of Anthony Gentile, the young boy who won the contest to create a mascot, now known as “Mr. Peanut,” for Planters.

In April 1909, the neighborhood was formally established when the Hall Realty Co. and South Side Land Corp. combined unused land with land from the Joseph P. Hall estate and divided it into parcels.

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One hundred years later, neighborhood civic leagues and residents are joining forces to celebrate the history of the area and showcase the quiet little corner of downtown Suffolk.

The celebration will take place on May 2 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Hall Place Park, at the entrance to the neighborhood. A parade starting at nearby Planters Park will make its way to Hall Place Park and will include antique cars and the Nansemond River High School band.

Once the parade is at Planters Park, there will be opening ceremonies and the burial of a time capsule. Mr. Peanut will make a special appearance to help cut the birthday cake.

Other attractions will include clowns, face painting, balloon animals, food vendors, a barbershop quartet, period actors, an Elvis impersonator, and an Amedeo Obici impersonator. Carriage rides also will be available for $10 per adult and $5 per child. With the exception of the carriage rides and food, all activities are free.

Organizers also will take time during the festivities to honor some of the neighborhood’s longest-living residents. A special “Down Memory Lane” tent, with pictures and other historical items, will be set up for residents and former residents to reminisce about Hall Place.

“There’s a lot of people in Suffolk that lived in Hall Place,” said Susan Blair, an organizer of the event.

“This is a time we can showcase our neighborhood and celebrate its history,” said Sandra Parker, another event organizer. “It’s 100 years – we can’t let this slide by.”