History

Newport News Council 511 was granted its charter on May 13, 1900.  The Charter Grand Knight was W. S. Brown who served in the capacity for three consecutive terms.  The initial meetings were held at the Citizens & Marine Bank Building which was located at the corner of 27th Street and Washington Avenue in downtown Newport News.

Meetings were held there until 1913 when the council moved to the Knights of Columbus Hall at 226 27th Street. 1920 Saw the next relocation to 3312 Washington Avenue.  In 1923, the meeting place was at 335 33rd Street which would later become the site of St. Vincent DePaul Elementary and High School.  From 1935 to 1940 the council’s home was located at 3406 ½ Washington Avenue.  In 1941, Newport News Council 511 moved to what would be its last permanent home for a while.  The building which was acquired housed the former Xavarian Brothers Boy’s School. The structure was located at the corner of 35th Street and Virginia Avenue (now Warwick Boulevard).

During World War II, the National Catholic Community Services, a branch of the United Services Organization (USO) took over the building.  Hundreds of service men and women from nearby military bases were entertained there. At the end of the war, the facility was returned to the Knights of Columbus.  At that time, the club manager was Jerry Ross. He and his family lived in an apartment on the second floor. The first floor housed offices and the Council Chamber. Social activities took place in the basement where the bar, lounge and restrooms along with a two lane bowling alley were located.

In early 50’s extensive renovations were done to that area.  The bowling alley was removed and the entire floor was remodeled.  This project was headed up by Past Grand Knight (PKG) Bill Wiley.

The 1950’s and 60’s were very active years for 511. The Council inaugurated the Columbus Day Parade in downtown Newport News.  The Parade grew to become the largest ever held on the Peninsula.  The Council also sponsored the annual visit of the circus to the area.  These shows included the Sells & Gray Circus, Kings Bros. Circus, and last but not least the Clyde Beatty Cole Bros. Circus, the largest under canvas show in the world.  Proceeds from sponsorship, which were substantial, funded the Council’s Charity Programs.

Fish Fries were held every Friday night.  Members and their guests enjoyed these dinners as did many shipyard 2nd shift workers.  The boxed dinners were delivered to them at the yard for their evening meal.  Steak dinners and spaghetti were also available in the lounge through the year.

In 1951, the building was sold to the architectural engineering firm of Williams, Coile and Blanchard.  Byron Williams, founder of the firm, was a Past Grand Knight of Council 511 and Boyce Blanchard was a council member.  At this time 511 leased the basement.  The space that had formerly housed the bowling alley became the Council Chamber. Active Social and Civic activities continued.  The lounge was opened every weekday at noon and many employees of the A-E firm as well as other offices located in the building had lunch there.  This proved to be a good source of income for the club.  PGK Jim Healy was famous for bringing many workers from the shipyard H F & P Shop 2nd shift for libation after their midnight quitting time.

In 1971, Forrest Colie Associates (Formerly Williams Colie & Blanchard) sold the building to then neighbor, Hutchens Chevrolet and moved to mid-town Newport News.  Shortly thereafter, Hutchens had the building demolished.  At that point, Council 511 was essentially homeless.  Meetings were held in various members’ homes as well as the old City Council Chamber and the Public Library in the Hilton Village area.

Struggling to stay alive and retain its charter, the membership decided to merge with one of the local councils.  In 1979, Newport News Council 511 joined with Mary Star of the Sea Council 5323 to become Mary Star Of the Sea Council 511.

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