Residents of Virginia Beach’s historic Seatack Community, Mayor William Sessoms and other dignitaries formally dedicated the Joseph V. Grimstead, Sr. Seatack Community Recreation Center last weekend.
Before a packed meeting room, during the ceremony, leaders of Seatack and the city delivered speeches noting the many accomplishments of Mr. Grimstead, including a portrait which will hang in the foyer of the facility. According to George Minns, the President of the Seatack Civic League, the program had a special historical significance for the city’s Black community.
”As the Mayor noted in his speech and history verifies, this is the first time that the labors and contributions of an African American who is a native of this city has ever been recognized,” said Minns. “Further this is the first building which has been named to honor an African American. This man tirelessly worked to make this community a viable one, when the city denied it basic services, like this facility. This is a tribute and honor long overdue for him and men of his generation.”
Mr. Grimstead has served as a leader in the community in many capacities. He is one of the only surviving founding members of the Seatack Volunteer Fire Department, which was the nation’s only all-Black fire department at the time of its formation. Leaders of the Seatack Civic League lobbied for Mr. Grimstead’s name to be placed on the building. It also organized the dedication event.
The Grimstead Community Center is one of six such facilities in Virginia Beach. It is 22,000 square feet and houses an indoor Olympic size swimming pool, an audio-visual center, fitness cardio center and meeting room among other amenities, according to the department of recreation which helped organized the dedication ceremony.
Mr. Grimstead served as a founding director of Seatack Community Property, Inc. In 1985, when serving as president of the Seatack Community Property, Inc., he signed a deed dedicating the property at 141 S. Birdneck Road to the City of Virginia Beach for the Seatack Community Center.
In August 2011, the Seatack Community Civic League submitted a request to have Mr. Grimstead’s name added to the Seatack Recreation Center to honor his many accomplishments.This request was adopted by a City Council resolution November 1, 2011.