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The Waterfront Park Project and 7 Mile Trail

7 mile trail and programmed spaces
7 mile trail and programmed spaces

The Fort Monroe Authority has selected the design team for the Waterfront Park and negotiated a fee of approximately $100,000. The Foundation has secured two pledges of $50,000 and the design team will soon meet with the Fort Monroe Authority staff to begin the design process. The conceptual design will be completed in 2015 and will include a public design charrette as well as public presentations to the Fort Monroe Authority Board of Trustees. This Waterfront Park design will include a conceptual plan for the entire waterfront owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia. The conceptual plan will be supplemented by more detailed drawings of individual park spaces in the Waterfront Park. These spaces will include sites such as Continental Park, the Kayak Launch Area, and Outlook Beach. Additionally, the Waterfront Park concept plan will be further supplemented with perspective drawings to better illustrate what the spaces will look like from the ground level and approximate cost estimates will be provided so that the Foundation can begin to market projects to philanthropic organizations interested in improving Fort Monroe. The ultimate goal is that the park would be an opportunity for people to invest in portions of the site as small as a brick paver to larger donations that would include naming rights to specific areas.

Pictured are Michael Monteith, President of the Peninsula Community Foundation and Bob Aston, Chairman and CEO of TowneBank.
Pictured are Michael Monteith, President of the Peninsula Community Foundation and Bob Aston, Chairman and CEO of TowneBank.

As part of the Waterfront Park conceptual design, the Fort Monroe Authority is also securing the services of a sign consultant who specializes in signage for campus settings such as Fort Monroe. Fort Monroe is challenged by internal signage to direct people to our historic sites, our individual buildings, as well as displaying property regulations. This service will be invaluable to both the Waterfront Park as well as the entire Fort Monroe campus. Once the contract is negotiated, the Foundation will assume responsibility for finding sponsors or grants to pay for this additional portion of the design project.

Thank you to the Peninsula Community Foundation and the TowneBank Foundation for their generous support.

Sisterhood on the Fort:
Social Enjoyment and Civic Engagement

This past summer the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast approached the Casemate Museum with a proposal for a temporary exhibit to tell the story of Girl Scouting at Fort Monroe. Girl scouting began at Fort Monroe in 1926 and the Post provided them space within a Casemate for their meeting room. Throughout their history, the Fort Monroe Girl Scouts camped on the Fort’s Parade Ground, performed countless beautification projects around the Post and actively contributed to local charitable organizations.

The exhibit incorporates a 1926 Fort Monroe Girl Scout scrapbook and photographs from the Museum archives, as well as historic uniforms and scout handbooks on loan from the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast. On Saturday October 4, 2014, the exhibit officially opened with an evening reception attended by over 50 people. Those in attendance included Fort Monroe Girl Scout alumnae, numerous executives and board members of the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, representatives from Top Guard Security and the National Park Service. The exhibit will be on display until the spring of 2015.

A generous $1,250 donation by the Museum’s security contractor, Top Guard Security, made the exhibit and opening reception possible.

Message from the Executive Director

Many great things happened at Fort Monroe over the spring and summer and we are looking forward to an exciting fall and winter. There has been an increase in visitor traffic this year and it is in large part due to a wide array of special events that have become very popular with the public.

On Thursday evenings this summer, Fort Monroe was again proud to host its Music by the Bay Summer Concert Series featuring military bands and patriotic music. To kick off this year’s concert series, the United States Air Force Heritage of America Band performed a special commemorative concert for the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. As a complement to the summer concert series, the Casemate Museum implemented the Discover Fort Monroe: Pre-Concert Walking Tour Series. Casemate Museum staff and National Park Service Rangers conducted 45-minute walking tours of Fort Monroe, emphasizing the history of the site, prior to each concert. Again, we were thrilled to conclude our summer concert series with the stirring performance of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

Fort Monroe’s Fourth at the Fort Celebration was again a huge success. An estimated 17,000 visitors enjoyed food vendors; free, family-friendly activities; musical entertainment provided by the United States Navy Fleet Forces Wind Ensemble and a spectacular close-proximity July 4th fireworks show.

As fall and winter approach, Fort Monroe is excited to provide three additional opportunities to explore the site and learn the history of one of the nation’s oldest treasures. On October 24 and 25, costumed storytellers will share classic Fort Monroe ghost tales during Fort Monroe Ghost Walk: Where History Meets Mystery. Holiday events at Fort Monroe will include a free concert by the Hampton Roads Philharmonic Orchestra and a tree lighting ceremony on Sunday, December 7, as well as a Holiday Homes Tour on the afternoon of Saturday, December 13. (Read more about these events here.)

Finally, the Fort Monroe Foundation would like to extend its appreciation to our sponsors who make special programming possible and to the public for attending. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, it is our hope that your enjoyment of historic Fort Monroe will often include attending our special events. From all of us at FMA, thank you for your support. We hope to see you again—and again.


G. Glenn Oder, ASLA
Executive Director, Fort Monroe Authority

Day of Service at Fort Monroe

Joan Baker, Human Resources Manager at Fort Monroe Authority, worked with Tracy King from the Church of the Latter Day Saints to organize a “Day of Service” at Fort Monroe. The Church brought 145 volunteers to the property and, if you counted all of the children, the total number exceeded 200 participants. Their assignment was to remove the weeds and plant growth on the seawall area along the land side of Gulick Road next to the Bay. This is a public space along the boardwalk that is not maintained by our landscape contractor and some weeds reached three feet in height. At the conclusion of the effort the property was substantially improved and over 200 bags of debris were filled and stacked along Gulick Road. Special thanks to Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward who was first approached by this group and directed them to the FMA to coordinate this volunteer effort.

At the conclusion of this activity, the FMA Special Events Department roped off an area near Outlook Beach for a restricted picnic area. They found numerous picnic tables in various locations on the property and a couple of “smoking shelters” near commercial office buildings that were no longer in use. Working with Veolia, they had the tables and shelters delivered to the special roped off area. As a test, the FMA allowed the Church volunteers to use the space for a private picnic area. We are pleased to report the space was a huge success and the FMA Special Events Team now considers this area as a leasable space known as Picnic Area 2. We expect this area will be another source of revenue for the FMA next spring and summer

To reserve the picnic area as well as other venues at Fort Monroe, contact Aaron Whittington, Special Events Coordinator at 757 690-8061 or

New Businesses Coming to Fort Monroe

Alternatives, Inc., which has signed a 10-year lease with the Fort Monroe Authority, occupies approximately 5,800 square feet in Building 263. The company’s programs and services are focused on increasing the creativity and civic leadership of young people. Goals include building youthful self-confidence, social competency, critical thinking and an appreciation of diversity in cultures and beliefs.

Liberty-Source PBC has taken approximately 6,000 square feet in Building 260 and an additional 3,000 square feet in Building 259. A new business services outsourcing model, Liberty- Source supports their clients’ evolving goals through transparent governance, flexible agreements and introduction of the latest innovations. The company acquires staff from the U.S. military community and, at full build-out, will have the potential of bringing 600 jobs to Fort Monroe.

American Great:
Booker T. Washington at Fort Monroe

In the fall of 1872, a 16-year-old African American with little more than the tattered clothes on his back arrived in Hampton, Virginia, hoping to enroll in Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, now Hampton University. Initially turned away, he would become Hampton’s most famous graduate. Born a slave in Hale’s Ford, Virginia, Booker T. Washington had experienced the Civil War and seen the evils of slavery firsthand. The Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the 13th Amendment that officially abolished slavery in 1865 provided inspiration and the opportunity for the inquisitive, intelligent and hard-working Washington to seek a higher education.

Washington recalled in his book Up From Slavery that his stepfather, Ferguson Washington, had escaped slavery during the Civil War “…by running away and following the Federal soldiers…” Historian Michael Rudolph West concludes in his book The Education of Booker T. Washington, that Ferguson Washington indeed sought refuge from slavery by becoming a Union Contraband of War. He traveled with the Union army from Virginia to West Virginia and ultimately settled there after the War.

Following the Civil War, while working as a coal miner deep within the mountains of West Virginia, the young Booker T. Washington overheard whispers from other workers about a school for African Americans somewhere in Virginia. He saved what money he could, asked for help and eventually set out on his journey east, determined to reach the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute. He traveled over 500 miles, mostly on foot, sleeping wherever he could and essentially living off the land. Washington’s determination to reach Hampton was similar to his stepfather’s earlier struggle for freedom and opportunity, or for that matter, comparable to the perseverance of the tens of thousands of African Americans who risked their lives to seek refuge as Contrabands during the Civil War.

After completing his first year of schooling, Washington did not have enough money to travel home for the summer or pay his next year’s tuition. He was in desperate need of a job and looked throughout Hampton for employment. Washington recalled in Up From Slavery, that “After trying for several days in and near the town of Hampton, I finally secured work in a restaurant at Fortress Monroe.” He continues, “At night, and between meals, I found considerable time for study and reading; and in this direction I improved myself very much during the summer.” The restaurant in which Washington worked was likely the Hygeia Dining Saloon and was located directly beside the Baltimore Wharf within present day Continental Park at the terminus of Ingalls Road. Although no remnants remain of the restaurant or Wharf, a historic photograph and an 1873 map included in the Casemate Museum’s archives, provide a unique opportunity to step back in time. Looking at the photograph allows us to reflect and imagine the influence Fort Monroe may have had on the young Booker T. Washington. We can still walk in his footsteps as he worked his way through his school years. Washington graduated from Hampton with honors in 1875.

Fort Monroe, located at Old Point Comfort, Virginia, is a site that encapsulates the African American struggle for freedom. From the first documented Africans to arrive in English North America in 1619 to the heroics of the three slaves who escaped and became Contrabands of War in 1861, Fort Monroe at Old Point Comfort is an epicenter for African American history. Anthony and Isabella, William Tucker, Frank Baker, James Townsend, Sheppard Mallory, Mary Peake, Harriet Tubman and Booker T. Washington are just a few of the African Americans whose heroism can be traced directly to Fort Monroe at Old Point Comfort, the largest stone Fort in North America and a shining beacon for freedom.

Following his time at Hampton, Booker T. Washington became nationally acclaimed as an orator, author of 14 books, advisor to Presidents of the United States and the first teacher at the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, eventually becoming the principal. He held this position from 1881 until his death in 1915 at the young age of 59. This coming November 14th marks the 99th anniversary of his death and provides an opportunity to remember him as a great American and true champion of education and freedom.

Written by Robert Kelly, Casemate Museum Historian

Bodacious Boardwalk Bazaar & Spring Festival – May 2, 3 & 4, 2014

Helpful Hints for planning your day at Fort Monroe

Tickets are available on site. Tickets are $7 per adult; $4 per child for the day. $10 per person for 2 days. Children in strollers are free. Tickets are also available at Countryside Gardens located at 220 E. Mercury Blvd. The event area is located on the bayside of Fenwick Road between Griffith and New Garden Streets.  No pets are allowed in the event area.

Directions to parking areas for the Bodacious Bazaar: Enter Fort Monroe via Ingalls Road (to the left of the guard/information booth). Take the first left turn onto Eustis Lane/Stillwell Road. Follow Stillwell Road and the Event Parking signs to available paved parking spaces. NO PARKING ON THE GRASS. Handicapped spaces are also available for cars/vans with DMV-issued placards or license plates. Handicapped parking lot is located at the intersection of Fenwick and Griffith Roads. A shuttle bus will run throughout the day to return shoppers to their cars to all of the available parking lots.

Hours of Operations: Friday and Saturday – 10 am until 7 pm; Sunday – 10 am until 6 pm.

Vendors, Artists, Crafters, Food Vendors and more – come out for this amazing three-day shopping experience. There are over 200 vendors with a huge array of gifts, crafts, jewelry, gardening items, food and so much more! Visit for more information.

The Bodacious Boardwalk Bazaar & Spring Festival Comes to Fort Monroe

Join us on the Bay for a fabulous three-day shopping bonanza. Over 200 vendors, artists and crafters will have their wares on display. Check out RVs and boats, too! Enjoy live music and great food.

Dates: May 2 and 3: 10 am to 7 pm. May 4: 10 am to 6 pm.
Tickets: Adults, $7 for one day, $10 for two days. Children, $4. Children in strollers are free.
Location: Fenwick Road between New Garden and Stillwell.
Parking: Free. Follow signs to designated parking lots.

For more information visit the Bodacious Bizarre website at

10 Important Fort Monroe Historic Spring Dates

April 4, 1896: First Chamberlin Hotel, designed by architect Paul Pelz opened for business

April 7, 1928:  Second Chamberlin Hotel opened for business

April 7, 1934: Inaugural performance at the Fort Monroe Bandstand by the Coast Artillery Band

April 28, 1758:  James Monroe Birthday

April 28, 1779: Simon Bernard Birthday

May 3, 1858: Chapel of the Centurion consecrated

May 6-11, 1862: President Lincoln visits Fort Monroe and stays at Quarters 1

May 19, 1865: Confederate President Jefferson Davis arrives as a prisoner of the United States following the conclusion of the Civil War

May 27, 1861: Major General Benjamin Butler makes his “contraband” decision, determining that escaping male slaves who reached Union lines would be considered contraband and not returned to bondage

June 1, 1951: Casemate Museum is founded

June 10, 1947: General Dwight D. Eisenhower attends his son’s (John Eisenhower) wedding at the Chapel of the Centurion

June 25, 1813: British burn the City of Hampton during the War of 1812


“Music by the Bay” Annual Summer Concert Series Returns in 2014

A special concert honoring the 70th Anniversary of D-Day Friday, June 6 kicks off another season of the annual summer concert series “Music by the Bay” at Fort Monroe. Join us each Thursday at the Gazebo at Continental Park to enjoy the music. This year’s lineup includes performances by the US Air Force Heritage of America Band, US Navy Fleet Forces Band, Hampton Roads Philharmonic and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. New this year are two special Friday concerts. The first is on June 6 by the USAF Heritage of America Concert Band commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day. The second, on June 20, features the Hampton Roads Philharmonic for the Virginia Bicentennial of the War of 1812 Legacy Symposium. Also returning this year is the “Fourth at the Fort” celebration with a performance by the US Navy Fleet Forces Wind Ensemble. And the Virginia Symphony Orchestra will perform for our season finale on August 29 – a can’t-miss event.

View the calendar for event times and more information or click here to view the poster.

June 6 – Special concert by the USAF Heritage of America Band, commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day
June 12 – US Navy Fleet Forces Wind Ensemble
June 19 – USAF Heritage of America Brass Band Ensemble
June 20 – Special Concert with the Hampton Roads Philharmonic for the Virginia Bicentennial of the War of 1812 Legacy Symposium
June 26 – US Navy Fleet Forces Brass Ensemble for “Fourth at the Fort”
July 3 – US Navy Fleet Forces Four Star Edition
July 4 – US Navy Fleet Forces Wind Ensemble
July 10 – US Navy Fleet Forces Brass Band
July 17 – USAF Heritage of America Band Full Spectrum
July 24 – US Navy Fleet Forces Four Star Edition
July 31 – USAF Heritage of America Band Dixie Ensemble
Aug 7 – US Navy Fleet Forces Wind Ensemble
Aug 14 – USAF Heritage of America Band Rhythm in Blue Jazz Ensemble
Aug 21 – US Navy Fleet Forces Wind Ensemble
Aug 29 – Virginia Symphony Orchestra

Performers are subject to change, weather permitting.