A Tour of Suffolk’s Historic Landmarks

historic landmarks of Suffolk

Suffolk, a city steeped in history, offers a rich tapestry of landmarks that narrate tales from centuries past. From the early encounters of Captain John Smith with the Nansemond Indians to the architectural marvels of historic homes and neighborhoods, Suffolk’s heritage is deeply embedded in its landscape. This article takes you on a journey through some of the most iconic historic landmarks in Suffolk, providing a glimpse into the places and events that have shaped the city into what it is today.

Key Takeaways

  • Explore the historic Cedar Hill Cemetery, known for its notable graves, monuments, and seasonal tours.
  • Visit Riddick’s Folly House Museum to admire its architectural highlights and learn about its historical significance.
  • Discover Constant’s Wharf, a riverside gem with a rich historical background and modern-day attractions.
  • Stroll through College Court, a neighborhood renowned for its diverse architectural styles and notable residents.
  • Experience Suffolk’s Historic Lakeside Neighborhood, which boasts key landmarks and vibrant community events.

Exploring Cedar Hill Cemetery

Notable Graves and Monuments

Cedar Hill Cemetery is a 32-acre expanse, rich in history and natural beauty. Once the 18th-century farm of John Constant, it is now the final resting place for historical figures, politicians, and soldiers—many of whom greatly impacted the growth of Suffolk, as well as Virginia. An official Virginia Civil War Trail site, Cedar Hill Cemetery has long been an attraction for history buffs and walking groups.

The Cemetery’s Role in Suffolk’s History

This 75-minute walking tour explores the hidden meanings buried in Suffolk’s Historic Cedar Hill Cemetery. The tour will feature Victorian-era symbolism, burial practices, funerary industries, and mourning rituals. This intriguing and educational excursion will highlight how the residents of Suffolk both lived and died in the 19th century. Cedar Hill Cemetery is more than two centuries old, with roots that harken back to the founding of Suffolk.

Seasonal Events and Tours

Available 2022 Tours:

  • Saturday, February 12
  • Saturday, February 26
  • Saturday, March 12
  • March 19 – 6pm
  • April 23 – 3:30pm
  • June 4 – 7pm
  • July 16 – 7pm
  • August 13 – 6:30pm
  • September 10 – 2pm
  • October 1 – 5pm
  • October 15 – 5pm
  • October 29 – 5pm

Fee: $7 adults; $5 seniors (60+), military, and children 12 and under.

Participants are asked to park in the lot adjacent to the Suffolk Seaboard Station Railroad Museum, 326 North Main Street, and meet at the Cedar Hill Cemetery gate adjacent to the parking lot. This walking tour includes walking on uneven and elevated surfaces. Comfortable shoes and weather-appropriate dress are recommended.

Riddick’s Folly House Museum

Architectural Highlights

While Mills Riddick’s contemporaries may have mocked his Greek Revival home when it was built in 1837, the house now stands as a beautiful reminder of the past. Riddick’s Folly has four floors, 21 rooms, and 16 fireplaces. All four floors are open to the public. The building features elegantly furnished double parlors, a gentleman’s library, and adult and children’s bedchambers. Also open are the laundry and dining rooms, and the winter kitchen.

Historical Significance

During the Civil War, Riddick’s Folly served as headquarters for the Union Army. Registered with the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission and the National Register of Historic Places, this museum offers a glimpse into a pivotal time in American history. Guided tours are available during Riddick’s Folly’s normal operating hours. Group tours are also available; please contact the museum in advance.

Visitor Information

Operating Hours:

  • Wednesday-Friday: 10am-5pm
  • Saturday: 10am-4pm
  • Sunday: 1-5pm

Admission Rates:

  • $7 – Adults
  • $6 – Military and Seniors (55+)
  • $3 – Students 18 and under
  • Free – Children 5 and under
  • $4 – Partial tours

Visitors should plan to spend an hour to an hour and a half at Riddick’s Folly. For more information, visit RiddicksFolly.org or call 757-934-0822.

Constant’s Wharf: A Riverside Gem

Historical Background

Located on the Nansemond River, John Constant founded this important trading center and village known as Constant’s Warehouse, which would become the Town of Suffolk in 1742. Constant’s Wharf played a pivotal role in the development of Suffolk, serving as a hub for commerce and transportation.

Modern-Day Attractions

Today, Constant’s Wharf is a vibrant area featuring a marina, parks, and walking trails. Visitors can enjoy kayaking excursions on the Nansemond River, with tours available on select dates. The area is also home to the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront, providing convenient accommodations for travelers.

Events and Festivals

Constant’s Wharf hosts a variety of events and festivals throughout the year, making it a lively destination for both locals and tourists. From summer concerts to holiday celebrations, there’s always something happening at this riverside gem.

Whether you’re interested in history, outdoor activities, or community events, Constant’s Wharf offers something for everyone.

Discovering College Court

College Court is a treasure trove of architectural styles, showcasing everything from Victorian to Georgian designs. Each building tells a story of the era it was constructed in, making it a fascinating area to explore for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts alike.

The neighborhood has been home to many notable residents over the years, including local politicians, artists, and business leaders. Their contributions have helped shape Suffolk into the vibrant community it is today.

Walking tours of College Court offer a unique way to experience the area’s rich history and diverse architecture. These tours often highlight the most significant buildings and provide insights into the lives of the people who once lived there.

College Court is one of the places that made Suffolk the city it is today. Highlights of this windshield tour include Cedar Hill Cemetery, Riddick’s Folly House Museum, Constant’s Wharf, College Court and Suffolk’s Historic Lakeside neighborhood.

Suffolk’s Historic Lakeside Neighborhood

Suffolk’s Historic Lakeside Neighborhood is a charming area that beautifully showcases the city’s rich heritage. This neighborhood is one of the highlights of any tour through Suffolk, offering a glimpse into the past with its well-preserved homes and scenic views of the lake.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum

Exhibits and Collections

The Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum offers a brilliant exhibition full of interest and many wonderful aircraft. Rooms are filled with historic examples from all over Britain, making it a great day out for all. The museum’s collection includes a variety of aircraft, engines, and aviation memorabilia that span the history of aviation in the UK.

Special Events

Throughout the year, the museum hosts a range of special events that cater to aviation enthusiasts and families alike. These events often include aircraft displays, educational talks, and interactive activities for children. Seasonal events are particularly popular, drawing visitors from near and far.

Visitor Tips

When planning your visit, consider checking the museum’s website for the latest information on opening hours and any special events that might be taking place. The museum is located at The Street, Flixton, Bungay, Suffolk, NR35 1NZ, and offers ample parking for visitors. Don’t forget to explore the gift shop for unique aviation-themed souvenirs.

Walking Through Downtown Suffolk

Downtown Suffolk contains a multitude of antique buildings, new businesses, old stories, and fresh food! “Headlines and Footnotes: A Downtown Suffolk Walking Tour” explores the streets of downtown Suffolk’s historic district, complete with revived century-old mansions, repurposed schools and warehouses, and forgotten architectural gems. Enjoy a self-guided pleasant stroll through Suffolk, Virginia’s downtown, with every step leading to adventure as more than 400 years of history unfold before you.

Experience the heartbeat of a vibrant community that has evolved into a diverse, modern city. The area is home to a variety of local businesses, from quaint cafes to unique boutiques. These establishments not only offer a taste of local culture but also contribute to the area’s charm and economic vitality.

Downtown Suffolk is not just about the past; it’s also about the future. The city is continually evolving, with new projects aimed at revitalizing the area while preserving its historical essence. Future developments promise to bring even more attractions and amenities, making it an exciting time to explore this historic yet forward-looking part of the city.

The Legacy of the Nansemond Indians

Suffolk’s rich heritage dates back to the early 17th century, when Captain John Smith first encountered the Nansemond Indians on the Nansemond River. This early interaction set the stage for centuries of history that would shape the region. Even now, you can trace Suffolk’s legacy through our historic homes and neighborhoods, churches, and Virginia Civil War Trails.

The Nansemond Indians have made significant cultural contributions to the area. Their traditions and practices have been woven into the fabric of Suffolk’s identity. From their unique craftsmanship to their agricultural techniques, the influence of the Nansemond is still evident today.

Efforts to preserve the history and culture of the Nansemond Indians are ongoing. Various local organizations and historical societies are dedicated to ensuring that the legacy of the Nansemond is not forgotten. These efforts include educational programs, cultural events, and the maintenance of historical sites.

Explore historic sites in Petersburg like Petersburg National Battlefield, Centre Hill Mansion, and Blandford Church. Relax in scenic Lexington with Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute.

Virginia Civil War Trails in Suffolk

Key Sites

Suffolk’s rich heritage dates back to the early 17th century, and you can trace this legacy through the Virginia Civil War Trails. Guided by a Suffolk historian, visitors can explore key sites such as Cedar Hill Cemetery, which is an official Virginia Civil War Trail site. This 32-acre expanse is the final resting place for many historical figures, politicians, and soldiers who greatly impacted the growth of Suffolk and Virginia.

Historical Context

The Virginia Civil War Trails in Suffolk offer a unique glimpse into the past. From the early encounters between Captain John Smith and the Nansemond Indians on the Nansemond River to the significant battles and events that took place in the area, these trails provide a comprehensive overview of Suffolk’s role in the Civil War. Suffolk’s legacy is evident in its historic homes, neighborhoods, and churches, all of which are part of the trail.

Guided Tours

For those looking to delve deeper into Suffolk’s Civil War history, guided tours are available. These tours, often led by knowledgeable historians, include highlights such as Cedar Hill Cemetery, Riddick’s Folly House Museum, and Constant’s Wharf. Available tour dates are typically announced in advance, allowing visitors to plan their trips accordingly.

Explore Suffolk through the eyes of years gone by! The Virginia Civil War Trails offer a fascinating journey through the city’s rich history, making it a must-visit for history buffs and curious travelers alike.

Martello Towers of Suffolk

Historical Importance

The Martello Towers of Suffolk are a series of small defensive forts built during the 19th century to protect against the threat of invasion. These towers played a crucial role in coastal defense, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. Their strategic locations along the coastline made them formidable barriers against enemy ships.

Architectural Features

Martello Towers are known for their distinctive circular design and thick walls, which were intended to withstand cannon fire. Each tower typically features:

  • A single entrance elevated above ground level
  • A flat roof equipped with a cannon
  • Living quarters for a small garrison

Visiting Information

Today, several of Suffolk’s Martello Towers are open to the public, offering a glimpse into the past. Visitors can explore the interiors, learn about their historical significance, and enjoy panoramic views of the coastline. Admission fees and opening hours vary, so it’s advisable to check ahead before planning your visit.

Visiting a Martello Tower is like stepping back in time, offering a unique perspective on Suffolk’s rich military history.

Exploring Suffolk’s Museums

historic landmarks and museums in Suffolk

Suffolk is home to some outstanding museums that cater to a variety of interests. From the 1,000-year-old Moyse’s Hall to the 14th-century Little Hall Museum in Lavenham, history enthusiasts will find plenty to explore. For those fascinated by machinery, the East Anglia Transport Museum, Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum, and Leiston Long Shop Museum offer a glimpse into the past. Additionally, the Museum of East Anglian Life provides insights into Suffolk’s agricultural history. For a deeper dive into Anglo-Saxon history, Sutton Hoo and West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village are must-visits.

Each museum in Suffolk boasts unique exhibits that make them worth visiting. At Moyse’s Hall, you can find artifacts dating back a millennium, while the Little Hall Museum showcases medieval architecture and local history. The East Anglia Transport Museum features vintage vehicles and transport memorabilia. The Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum is a treasure trove for aviation enthusiasts, with aircraft and aviation artifacts on display. Leiston Long Shop Museum highlights the industrial heritage of the area, and the Museum of East Anglian Life offers interactive exhibits on rural life.

When planning your visit, it’s helpful to know the key details about each museum. Here’s a quick reference:

Moyse’s HallBury St EdmundsArtifacts from 1,000 years ago
Little Hall MuseumLavenhamMedieval architecture
East Anglia Transport MuseumCarlton ColvilleVintage vehicles
Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation MuseumFlixtonAircraft displays
Leiston Long Shop MuseumLeistonIndustrial heritage
Museum of East Anglian LifeStowmarketRural life exhibits

Tip: Many of these museums offer seasonal events and special exhibitions, so be sure to check their websites for the latest updates.

Exploring Suffolk’s museums is a journey through time, offering a rich tapestry of history, culture, and innovation. Whether you’re a history buff, an aviation enthusiast, or simply curious about the past, Suffolk’s museums have something to offer everyone.


Exploring Suffolk’s historic landmarks offers a unique journey through time, revealing the rich tapestry of stories and events that have shaped this vibrant city. From the early encounters between Captain John Smith and the Nansemond Indians to the beautifully preserved homes and neighborhoods, each landmark provides a glimpse into the past. Whether you’re wandering through the historic downtown on a self-guided tour or enjoying a narrated bus tour, Suffolk’s heritage is ever-present, inviting you to delve deeper into its fascinating history. So, take your time, enjoy the sights, and let the history of Suffolk enrich your visit. Happy exploring!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Historic Suffolk Narrated Bus Tour?

The Historic Suffolk Narrated Bus Tour is a guided tour that explores various historic sites in Suffolk, including Cedar Hill Cemetery, Riddick’s Folly House Museum, Constant’s Wharf, College Court, and Suffolk’s Historic Lakeside neighborhood.

What are some key landmarks to visit in Suffolk?

Some key landmarks to visit in Suffolk include Cedar Hill Cemetery, Riddick’s Folly House Museum, Constant’s Wharf, College Court, and the Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum.

When did Suffolk’s history begin?

Suffolk’s rich heritage dates back to the early 17th century, when Captain John Smith first encountered the Nansemond Indians on the Nansemond River.

Are there any seasonal events and tours at Cedar Hill Cemetery?

Yes, Cedar Hill Cemetery hosts various seasonal events and tours throughout the year.

What can I expect on a walking tour of downtown Suffolk?

On a walking tour of downtown Suffolk, you can expect to see historic buildings, local businesses, and learn about future developments. The tour explores the streets of downtown Suffolk’s historic district, including century-old mansions and repurposed schools and warehouses.

What is unique about Riddick’s Folly House Museum?

Riddick’s Folly House Museum is known for its architectural highlights and historical significance. It offers a glimpse into the past with its well-preserved structures and exhibits.

What can visitors see at the Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum?

Visitors to the Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum can explore various exhibits and collections related to aviation history, as well as attend special events hosted by the museum.

Are there any guided tours available for Virginia Civil War Trails in Suffolk?

Yes, there are guided tours available for the Virginia Civil War Trails in Suffolk, which provide historical context and highlight key sites related to the Civil War.

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