The Fort Monroe Story
Exploring Years of History
The area known today as Old Point Comfort has an extensive and complicated history that spans long before and after the occupancy of the U.S. Army. To celebrate both the civilian and military communities which have coexisted on this stretch of land, we refer to events regarding the military history as occurring at Fort Monroe and those regarding the local community as part of the larger history of Old Point Comfort. What follows is a timeline of significant events which have occurred in this geographic space in written memory. We, as a staff, acknowledge that written memory severely limits the telling of a diverse historical narrative and are actively working to collect additional material culture and oral histories, which shed better light on lived experience. This timeline will be updated as we continue to learn, but truly begins over 10,000 years before the arrival of the English with the occupation of Indigenous peoples.
The first school for Army Chaplains opens at Fort Monroe after General Pershing recommends a chaplain be appointed for every 1,200 soldiers in the Army. Fort Monroe is only home to one session, the school relocating to Camp Grant, Illinois after World War I.
Fort Monroe as an active military installation is slated for closure on the Department of Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list. Discussion surrounding the closure of the fort had been circulating since 1974.
The City of Hampton establishes the Fort Monroe Federal Area Development Authority (FMFADA), partnering with the Commonwealth of Virginia to provide a reuse plan for Fort Monroe.
An Act of the Virginia General Assembly creates the Fort Monroe Authority (FMA) and charges the authority with the reuse planning and management of the more than 540 acres of land and over one million square feet of structures.
The Fort Monroe Authority removes letters designating “Jefferson Davis Memorial Park” on the south bastion of the old fort, in response to Black activism and conversations surrounding Confederate monuments. The park was funded by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and installed in 1956.
In response to the murder of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter 757 organizes protests on Old Point Comfort, the same site remembered for the First African Landing and the Contraband Decision. These protests illustrate the continuing struggle to dismantle systemic racism in the United States.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designates Fort Monroe as a Site of Memory associated with the UNESCO Slave Route project.