Historic Bottling Works Building in Portsmouth is for sale for $1.2 million – The Virginian-Pilot

PORTSMOUTH — The Bottling Works Building in downtown Portsmouth, originally built in 1901 by an African American fraternal organization, is on the market for $1.2 million.
Now a mixed-use building with a day care business on the ground floor and three New York-style loft apartments above, the building comes with history and has been listed on state and federal historic registers.
The building was constructed as True Reformers Hall for $5,672, according to BottlingWorksBuilding.com and the red sign outside the building. The Grand Fountain of the United Order of True Reformers, founded in 1873 by William Washington Browne, a formerly enslaved person and veteran of the Union Army during the Civil War, was the first occupant. In 1913, it became the city’s first high school for the Black community.
The property at 915 High St. has also been home to an auto parts and supplies seller, a furniture store, a ministry and a warehouse.
The building gets its name from when a family-run business bottled nationally known carbonated soft drinks, including Redwine, there for 20 years. Morris Benjamin Ginsburg and his three sons and son-in-law opened City Bottling Works in 1931.
When the business closed and the property sold in 1951, the building eventually began to deteriorate.
Decades later, Van Hildreth, a general contractor and developer from New York City, was visiting his parents at Christmastime in Norfolk in search of buildings to rehab.
A drive through Portsmouth brought them to High Street. When he saw the building, Hildreth envisioned what it could be.
“I went out to look at properties and this building — its character as run down as it was — kind of caught my eye,” he said.
He bought the property in 2002. The transaction reported in The Virginian-Pilot recorded the sale as $55,000.
He and his brother James renovated it under High Meadow Holdings LLC for a year and a half, keeping and showcasing the character of the building while giving it modern appeal.
Each apartment, featuring exposed brick and wood beams and wide plank solid oak flooring, is about 1,650 square feet. All units are all currently occupied.
Van Hildreth said he wanted to test the market and see what the building was worth.
“If we can unload it, good; if not, I’ll just keep collecting rent,” he said.
Built in 1901 for $5,672
Sold in 2002 for $55,000
For sale in 2021 for $1.2 million
Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-652-5836, [email protected]

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