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The Fort Monroe Authority Welcomes New Trustees

Dr. Edward L. Ayers
University Professor and President Emeritus

Edward Ayers is President Emeritus of the University of Richmond, where he now serves as Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities. Previously Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia, where he began teaching in 1980, Ayers was named the National Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2003.

A historian of the American South, Ayers has written and edited 10 books. The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In the Presence of Mine Enemies: Civil War in the Heart of America won the Bancroft Prize for distinguished writing in American history and the Beveridge Prize for the best book in English on the history of the Americas since 1492. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2013.

A pioneer in digital history, Ayers created “The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War,” a website that has attracted millions of users and won major prizes in the teaching of history. He serves as co-editor of the Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States at the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab and is a co-host of BackStory with the American History Guys, a nationally syndicated radio show and podcast.

Ayers has received a presidential appointment to the National Council on the Humanities, served as a Fulbright professor in the Netherlands and been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.



Dr. Maureen G. Elgersman Lee
Associate Professor/Chair, Political Science and History

Dr. Maureen Elgersman Lee is currently Associate Professor of History and Chair of the Department of Political Science and History at Hampton University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in French from Redeemer University College, as well as a master’s degree in African and African American Studies and a doctorate in Humanities, with a concentration in African American Studies, both from Clark Atlanta University.  She joined the Hampton University faculty in Fall 2013.

Dr. Elgersman Lee specializes in the history of Black women in Canada and the British Caribbean as well as in Black community history.  She is the author of two books: Unyielding Spirits: Black Women and Slavery in Early Canada and Jamaica (Garland/Taylor and Francis), and Black Bangor: African Americans in a Maine Community, 1880-1950 (University Press of New England). She is the author of various articles, most notably “ ‘What They Lack in Numbers’: Locating Black Portland, 1870-1930” in Joseph A. Conforti, ed., Creating Portland: History and Place in Northern New England (University Press of New England) and “Slavery in Early Canada: Making Black Women Subject,” in Mona Gleason and Adele Perry, ed., Rethinking Canada: The Promise of Women’s History, 5th ed. (Oxford University Press). For her work, Black Bangor,  Dr. Elgersman Lee received the Leadership in History Award of Merit from the American Association for the Study of State and Local History (AASLH) and the “Best of the Best of the University Presses—Outstanding Title” Award from the American Library Association (ALA).

Dr. Elgersman Lee regularly teaches the African American history survey as well as various upper level topics courses in Africana and women’s history.  She is currently working on a study of African Americans in Williamsburg, Virginia, after the Civil War.



Rex M. Ellis
Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs, National Museum of African American History and Culture

Rex M. Ellis has served as the associate director for curatorial affairs at NMAAHC since 2008. He has the responsibility for planning, developing, directing and managing all curatorial, collections, education and outreach programs and activities.

Before joining NMAAHC, Ellis was vice president of the Historic Area for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, where he oversaw all programs and operations. Ellis was the first African American vice president in the foundation’s history and served in that position for eight years (2001-2008).

He received his bachelor of fine arts from Virginia Commonwealth University, a Master in Fine Arts from Wayne State University, a Master of Divinity from Virginia Union University and a doctor of education from the College of William and Mary. He has contributed articles to such publications as Journal of American History, Colonial Williamsburg Journal, August House Publications and History News. He is the author of two books, Beneath the Blazing Sun: Stories from the African American Journey and With a Banjo on My Knee, which chronicles the history of black banjo players from the time of slavery to the present.

Ellis is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, American Association of Museums, American Association for State and Local History, National Association of Black Storytellers and the National Storytelling Association. He has served as consultant to organizations such as the Midland Independent school district in Texas, Los Angeles County School District and the National Constitution Center. He has also worked with various institutions in many countries around the world such as Africa, New Zealand, France and Israel.

His presentations, lectures, workshops and consultancies focus on public programming, diversity interpretation and African American history and culture. His interests also include the spoken word and early American history, with special emphasis on slavery.



John J. Reynolds

John J. Reynolds served 39 years in the National Park Service, including time as Deputy Director: Regional Director, Director Denver Service Center, Superintendent North Cascades National Park, Assistant Superintendent Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and park planner/landscape architect. He currently serves as a board member of the Presidio Trust, the Student Conservation Association, Chesapeake Conservancy, Global Parks and Shenandoah National Park Trust. Mr. Reynolds is the Commonwealth of Virginia Citizen Representative to the Chesapeake Bay Commission, member of North Cascades Institute Advisory Council, Chair of the Flight 93 National Memorial Federal Advisory Commission and the Captain John Smith National Historic Trail Advisory Council. He is also a past board member of the Landscape Architecture Foundation, George Wright Society, Yosemite Fund, Yosemite National Institutes, Association of Partners for Public Lands and past US Delegate to the World Heritage Committee. He has received Meritorious and Distinguished Service Awards from the Department of the Interior and the LaGasse Conservation Award and Fellow, American Society of Landscape Architects. His college degrees include BSLA, Iowa State University and MLA, State University of New York at Syracuse. Mr. Reynolds also served in the New Jersey National Guard and United States Army Reserve 1966-1972.

Calendar of Events 2018

Voices of Freedom: Civil War to Civil Rights
Fort Monroe Community Center, Saturday, February 10 at 4:30 pm

Civil War Encampment
Garrison Life Parade Ground, Saturday, March 24 from 9 am – 5 pm and Sunday, March 25  from 10 am – 3 pm
A glimpse into garrison life at Fort Monroe during the American Civil War. Events can include: Infantry, Artillery and Cavalry drill, firing demos, raising/lowering flag, Pay Call, Church Call and more!      

Easter Sunrise Service hosted by the Chapel of the Centurion
Continental Park, Sunday, April 1 at 6:30 am

Contraband Commemorative Event Series

  • Freedom Concert  Continental Park, April TBD, 7 pm, (Weather Date: TBD)
  • Living History Tours  Cannon Park, Saturday, May 5 from 11 am – 2 pm, Tours begin every 30 minutes. Living History tour explores the “Contraband Decision” and freedom seekers here at “Freedom’s Fortress.”
  • Contraband Commemoration Ceremony  Cannon Park, Thursday, May 24 at 7:30 pm. Ceremony to commemorate the 1861 “Contraband Decision.”

Memorial Day/Flag Retirement Ceremony
Colonies RV and Travel Park, Monday, May 28 at 11:30 am
Memorial Day and flag retirement ceremony for used flags.

Walking Tours
Casemate Museum Entrance. Daily, June 1 – September 3 at 11 am
Explore the park with a Ranger!   Walking tours are free of charge.

Music by the Bay Summer Concert Series
Continental Park, Thursday nights, June 7 – August 30 at 7 pm
Weekly variety of musical acts, performers and military bands. No concert July 5th. Free admission.

Campfire Talks
Colonies RV and Travel Park, Friday nights, June 15 – August 31 at 7 pm
Free educational programs for all ages! New topics each week will highlight the natural, historical or cultural wonders found at Fort Monroe!

Fourth of July Flag Ceremony
Flagstaff Bastion, Wednesday, July 4 at 10 am
Flag ceremony observing the 4th of July and the anniversary of the 1831 death of President James Monroe.

Fourth at the Fort
North Gate Area, Wednesday, July 4 from 6 – 9:45 pm
Vendors, exhibit booths, activities and military bands create a festive celebration of the 4th of July ending with a fireworks display!

African Arrival Day
Continental Park, August TBD

Hampton Cup Regatta
Mill Creek September 29 & 30 (need to confirm dates)

Fort Monroe Ghost Walk
Main Gate, October 19 & 20, 6-10 pm
Discover where history meets mystery! The Fort Monroe Authority will host the annual guided Ghost Walks.

Veterans Day Ceremony
DeRussy/Church Field Saturday, November 10 at 9 am
Veterans Day observance followed by the installation of US flags.

Fort Monroe Tree Lighting Ceremony
Cannon Park, Thursday, December 6 at 5:30 pm
Annual holiday tree lighting ceremony at Cannon Park.

Fort Monroe Mistletoe Homes Tour
20 Ingalls Road, Saturday, December 8 from 11 am – 5 pm
Celebrate the season with a walking tour of Fort Monroe’s most beautiful, historic homes, decorated for the holidays.



Programs are subject to change. Outdoor programs are weather permitting.

Fort Monroe Awarded Major Challenge Grant

The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, a prestigious Virginia grantor, has awarded the Fort Monroe Foundation a $250,000 Challenge toward the site’s priority projects over the next five years.

To secure the Challenge, the Fort Monroe Foundation must raise $1,000,000 in new gifts or pledges – or secure increased support from previous donors by next December 2018. Fort Monroe’s next phase of development of public resources and programs is estimated to require $19,500,000. Among the major projects is the new Visitor and Education Center, along with way-finding signage and plans for the old Post Theater and Old Quarters One restoration.

With significant early support from the federal government, Commonwealth of Virginia and select private donors, a balance of $13,500,000 is being sought to support these five-year projects and resources for a growing audience.

Civil War Soldier Sawyer

Fascinating story is my ancestor who ended up at Fort Monroe at the end of the Civil War. I was born and raised here, started doing genealogy, and found a relative who served in the Civil War. Samuel Sawyer’s fascinating story is that he served from the beginning of the war to the end. He was in all the major battles including the Bloody Angle, Gettysburg, Cold Harbor, and his 32nd NC Regiment came furtherest north to capture the capital. Col. Brabble bragged of the regiment’s bravery at Gettysburg and Robert E. Lee issued the Regiment with the 2nd Flag of the Confederacy because, “they were most worthy of carrying it”. Just days before the end of the war, Samuel was wounded and captured at Petersburg where he lost his right arm. He was sent to Fort Monroe May 17, 1865 and discharged on taking oath July 9, 1865. Upon, discovering this, I took my kids to tour Fort Monroe and enjoyed all of it. There was so much I had never known. The history here needs to be told. We are the beginning of America from Jamestown to the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Military & Shipyards, and beyond.

Daughter of a Retired Master Seargent

We were moved here to Hampton, VA when my father was stationed at Fort Monroe. My childhood was spent at baseball games my father umpired on the field where the new bowling alley was built and basketball games he refereed at the Y. Sitting up on the balcony in the Y, looking down on the game was exciting. My fondest memories involve the Chamberlain Hotel. My father was also the bartender in the small bar to the left as you entered the hotel from the staircase side of the building. Sitting on the bar stool, legs tucked under me so I could reach the Maraschino cherries and eating them till I was a little ill on the stomach. The NCO pool were we would swim, play and make friends all day. The hospital, where I went through years of allergy shots because of a reaction I had to a bee sting so many years ago. I still enjoy visiting the Fort, dining at the Deadrise and visiting the Chamberlain for happy hour with the Residents. It is still a place full of happy memories for me.

Fourth at the Fort – A Night to Remember

Fourth of July at the Fort Remains a Hot Event

The Fourth of July at Fort Monroe has been an area tradition for decades, and it is continuing to draw people in droves.

This year, approximately 25,000 visitors celebrated Independence Day at Fort Monroe.

“It was wonderful to walk the property and see so many people from the community, faces we’ve seen for several years, and many new faces,” said Glenn Oder, executive director of the Fort Monroe Authority. “This shows how much of a tradition coming to Fort Monroe is to our community.”

The day started with the James Monroe Foundation, National Park Service and the Casemate Museum hosting a patriotic flag-raising ceremony at the Flag Bastian. This activity included live period music, participants in period attire and the featured speaker was historian Elise Harding Davis.

Thousands took advantage of the many Fort Monroe amenities including the beaches, picnic areas, campground, fishing pier, restaurants and craft brewery.

Community exhibitors provided free family-friendly activities and give-away items to event-goers. In celebration of NASA Langley’s 100th birthday, the base presented exhibits including a tabletop Mars Rover demonstration, solar system cornhole and a futuristic aircraft design activity. More than 1,000 people visited the demonstrations.

Live music was provided by the United States Air Force Heritage of America Band, Full Spectrum. This six-piece, high energy, electrifying, “pop & hip hop” band played two sets while thousands danced and sang along.

But the main event was the fireworks. The event site was relocated in 2017 to the Mill Creek side of the property in order to have the perfect amphitheater-like setting for the spectacular fireworks show.

Immediately following the concert, the fireworks were launched on a very calm, glass-like creek that reflected the colors and sparkles of this aerial show. As patriotic music played in the background, thousands of people rimmed Stillwell Road in awe of the display. The fireworks were produced by the world-renowned company, Pyrotecnico.

The 15-minute fireworks show was launched from a 1,600-square-foot floating platform in Mill Creek. This platform was provided by Youth Sailing Virginia, a non-profit organization that provides sailing opportunities for students in the 7th to 12th grades.

“Year after year, this day ranks as one of the most exciting and well attended in our community,” said Oder. “I am just happy that we can continue to provide such an opportunity for people to come together and celebrate.”

Growing up on Fort Monroe

I was born at the post hospital on March 9, 1948 and soon baptized at St Mary’s Star Of The Sea. My first home was the NCO quarters beside the Rectory. My father was career Army. We then left when my father was posted to Hong Kong but returned to Ft Monroe on his return. We lived on Pratt St until we were posted to Patch Barracks in Germany. Again on return to Ft Monroe we lived at 23 Murray St until my father retired in 1962. We then moved to Newport News while my father worked a civilian job at Ft Eustis, but returned to Hampton for me to be a part of the first class to graduate with 3 years at Kecoughtan High School. Many of my classmates were friends and kids who still lived at Ft Monroe. Growing up at Fort Monroe, and in the army in general, had to be the greatest experience a kid could have. I have an amazing amount of memories and stories of living on the post. My first marriage was even held at St Marys. And believe me when I say the history of the post has never been lost on me and provided a huge basis for my patriotism and love of country. This upbringing served me well during my own service during Viet Nam and during my multiple careers afterwards.

Haunted House

As an “Army Brat” I was lucky enough to spend my final 2 years of High School living at 36 Ruckman Rd,, inside the moat just adjacent to the beautiful Chapel of the Centurion. Loved the fact that according to a “Ghosts of Ft Monroe” pamphlet, our quarters had been reported as haunted in the past; and in particular my bedroom, upstairs at the back of the house. Never saw a ghost myself, but loved being part of that history! Hope Hampton residents continue to maintain this historic site.

Wonderful Duty Station

Stationed there from 1986 to 1991. Remember doing PT runs on the sea wall, past the NCO club and onto Dog Beach. We played soccer inside the moat for PT. Easter sunrise services were held in Continental Park with the sun coming up on the Chesapeake. I was in the CG’s (Gen Foss) Command Planning Group that had our offices in the first floor rooms of the old Chamberlin hotel along with the many liaison officers. We climbed out of our windows onto the roof to watch the US Navy battleships come back for the last time from the Gulf War. Great memories of people, events, and a very historic post! Feel so special to have a part in its history.

Born Here

I was born on Fort Monroe when it was still and active army fortress. I lived all around the world and returned to the area more than once. My oldest sister was married at the Chapel of the Centurian, and I worked for Fort Monroe Credit Union for many years. Last summer I returned to the area to visit my folks, and it was my first visit to the fortress since it had been decommissioned. I was glad to see her still in good shape and am hopeful for her future.
Please take good care of this beautiful piece of history!