Port Norfolk exemplifies late 19th-century efforts to accommodate the growing demand for uncrowded neighborhoods conveniently located near shops, recreational areas, churches, and places of employment.
Bordered on the north by the Elizabeth River, Port Norfolk began as a planned suburb consisting mostly of freestanding wooden houses. Building types range from elaborate Queen Anne piles to the ever-popular bungalows
The boundaries of the district were increased, however, in 1983 to include a residential neighborhood dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This added area contains a row of five houses that have historically been occupied by black residents.
The extension also includes the Emanuel AME Church, an important post-Civil War black institution.
The extension of the boundaries of the Portsmouth Historic District represents a growing awareness of the need to acknowledge the role of African Americans in the development of Portsmouth and the history of Virginia.
The Portsmouth Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 19, 2017.