History of Trade Associations

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Connecting Business with Opportunity

Although there is archeological evidence that some sort of business trade associations existed in Mesopotamia, the first recognized chamber of commerce was established in France in 1599. It is still in existence today and is known as the Chambre’de Commerce. The second chamber was established nearly 100 years later on the English Channel Island of St. Helier off the Jersey coast.

The first American Chamber of Commerce was established in 1770 in New York City. It later moved to Albany and is known today as the Empire State Chamber of Commerce. The first local Chamber was established in 1773 in Charleston.

The Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce traces its history back to its earliest records dating to 1898 where we find the Hampton Board of Trade and The Newport News Business Men’s Association. In July 1903, the Chamber of Commerce of Newport News was formed. In 1904, the Hampton Chamber of Commerce was established.

In April 1935, under the leadership of Lloyd Noland Sr., the following business organizations: Newport News, Hampton, Phoebus, Warwick, Williamsburg, James City County, York County and Elizabeth City County, consolidated to form the Virginia Peninsula Association of Commerce. In December 1958, the name changed to the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, and in September 1984, the named changed to the current, Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. The records indicated the preceding list of volunteer leaders through those years.

Newport News Business Men’s Association

1898-1900William B. Vest
1901J. Addison Willett, Jr.
1902William E. Barret

Hampton Board of Trade
1898-1899William E. Lawson
1900-1904William J.A. Cumming

Chamber of Commerce of Hampton
1904-1935Records unavailable

Chamber of Commerce of Newport News
1903-1904James L. Patton
1905Albert L. Powell
1906Henry B. Holmes
1907Walter B. Livezey
1908Clarence P. Jones, M.D.
1909Walter S. Copeland
1910W. Lee Powell
1911T. Otis Bland
1912William B. Colonna
1913-1914Matthew C. Armstrong
1915Bernard W. Crump
1916John I. Viney
1917-1919John N. Shannahan
1920Joseph A. Massie
1921Philip W. Hiden
1922Robert P. Holt
1923-1924Godfrey L. Smith
1925-1926Chester D. Porter
1927Abe Horowitz
1928Thomas J. Hundley
1929William B. Ferguson
1930Norman E. Drexler
1931Lewis T. Jester
1932-1934Eugene F. Dugger

Virginia Peninsula Association of Commerce
1935Lloyd U. Noland
1936Robert P. Wallace
1937Raymond B. Bottom
1938Harry A. Keitz
1939G. Franklin Lenz
1940Edward J. Robenson, Jr.
1941Charles A. Ferguson
1942Joe W. Wheeler
1943Alex M. Conner
1944-1946Charles K. Hutchens
1947David Dick
1948Ward R. Scull
1949S. Sydney Bortner
1950-1951Leslie R. O’Hara
1952Max Shapiro
1953-1954Frank A. Mitchell
1955George T. Abernathy
1956-1957W. Ward Anderson

Peninsula Chamber of Commerce
1958-1959Willits H. Bowditch, Sr.
1960-1961William R. Van Buren, Jr.
1962-1963Lewis A. McMurran, Jr.
1964-1965Robert S. Hornsby
1966William W. Wyatt
1967George H. Hill
1968Rodgers A. Smith
1969Robert J. Curtin
1970Charles E. Hastings
1971Troy L. Davis
1972Gordon B. Cutler
1973Richard Newman
1974-1975Prentis Smiley, Jr.
1976-1977Karl F. Lanier
1978-1979Alden A. West
1980-1981Sylvia Berry
1982Edward Harris
1982Erwin B. Drucker
1983Gordon L. Gentry, Jr.

Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce
1984Frank R. Bloxom, Jr.
1985Kenneth F. Palmer
1986Robert B. Terrell
1987Gerald R. Brink
1988W. Lee Barnes
1989William M. Grace
1990Alan Witt
1991: L.E. Queen
1992: Robert Kenerley
1993: Conway H. Sheild, III
1994: S. Michael Evans
1995: C. Wayne Williamson
1996: Howard B. Waters
1997: Arthur J. Kamp
1998: Alfred J. Shrieves
1999: Anna V.B. McNider
2000: Svein J. Lassen
2001: Charles G. Armfield
2002: Paul W. Garman
2003-2004: Frederick N. Elofson
2005-2006: Joseph R. Witt
2007: D. Guy Manchester
2008: Chuck Mitchell
2009-2010: Joycelyn Spight-Thrower
2011-2012: Mark Hanna
2013-2014: Kasia Grzelkowski
2015-2016: Robert F. Shuford, Jr.
2017:Debra Flores
2017-2018: Daniel Chenoweth