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Walking Tour & Guide

visitor & education center

★Fort Monroe Visitor and Education Center

Through the adaptive reuse of an original Beaux Arts style building, which was first built as a Library in 1909 by the Coast Artillery Schools, the Fort Monroe Visitor and Education Center will complement the existing Casemate Museum. With visitor amenities, galleries, a gift shop, information desk, archives, and multi-purpose space, it will also feature exhibits that include the story of the first landing of Africans in English North America and the “Contraband Decision” at Fort Monroe. The history surrounding Old Point Comfort has many layers of complicated and multi-racial themes that helped to change the course of history of this nation.

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casemate museum

1Casemate Museum

Located within the fort’s walls, the museum contains a chronological history of Old Point Comfort and Fort Monroe. A casemate is a room within the walls of a fort, used for a variety of different purposes including as gun emplacements and living quarters.

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pet cemetery

2Pet Cemetery

400 reported graves found atop the ramparts mark the final resting place for US Army working dogs, unit mascots, and pets belonging to military personnel and their families. The cemetery was officially closed for burials in 1988.

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building 17

3Building #17

Building #17, constructed in 1823, served as quarters for young 2nd Lt. Robert E. Lee and his wife, Mary Custis Lee. Lee was responsible for directing large engineering projects during the fort’s construction.

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flagstaff bastion

4Flagstaff Bastion

This site offers a commanding view of Hampton Roads, one of the largest natural harbors in the world. The flag is the first US flag mariners will see when returning and the last when heading out to sea.

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chapel of the centurion

5Chapel of the Centurion

Dedicated in 1858, the Chapel of the Centurion was designed by noted architect, Richard Upjohn. The chapel is named for the Roman Centurion Cornelius, the first gentile converted to Christianity. Two active congregations meet here.

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lincoln gun

6Lincoln Gun

Cast in 1860, this gun is the first 15-inch Rodman gun produced, and named for President Abraham Lincoln in 1862.

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alernourne oak

7Algernourne Oak

This live oak (Quercus virginiana) is estimated to be over 400 years old. It was named for the first English fort, Fort Algernourne, which was built on the site in 1609.

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quarters #1

8Quarters No. 1

Constructed in 1819, this building is the oldest house inside the moat. It originally served as the constructing engineer’s quarters and, later, the commanding officer’s quarters. Famous visitors include the Marquis de Lafayette, President Abraham Lincoln, and King Kalākaua of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

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water battery

9Water Battery

Completed by 1821, the water battery was a series of casemates housing 42 cannons that supplemented the fort’s original defenses. Today, only the powder magazine remains.

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endicott era batteries

10Endicott Era Batteries

(Battery Parrott and Battery Irwin)
Completed in 1905, Battery Parrott originally held two 12-inch disappearing guns. The 90mm anti-aircraft gun seen here was installed in 1976. From 1902 to 1920, Battery Irwin held four 3-inch rapid-fire guns. In 1946, two 3-inch guns were moved from Fort Wool and installed here as a salute battery.

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old point comfort lighthouse

11Old Point Comfort Lighthouse

Built in 1802, this lighthouse is the oldest structure on Old Point Comfort and the second oldest lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay. It was captured by the British and used as an observation tower during the War of 1812. Today, it is operated by the United States Coast Guard as an active aid to navigation.

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african landing memorial

12African Landing Memorial

Proposed site for the African Landing Memorial. Plans are to create a public memorial that will honor the first Africans who were brought to Point Comfort. The memorial will have a work of art that engages the public, narrating the journey, struggles, and triumphs of the Africans who landed here in 1619 as well as the generations of African Americans that followed.

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engineer wharf

13Engineer Wharf

The original wharf was built in 1818 to receive construction materials for Fort Monroe. Currently, it is open to the public from dawn until dusk for sightseeing and fishing. A Virginia saltwater fishing license is required to fish from the pier.

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first africans in virginia marker

14First Africans in Virginia – State Historical Marker

The first Africans in English North America arrived here at Old Point Comfort in August 1619 aboard the ship, White Lion. The Africans brought with them their languages, cultures, and traditions that along with their presence would forever change the course of the United States.

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bandstand & continental park

15Bandstand/Continental Park

Built in 1934 by an African American camp of the Civilian Conservation Corps and Work Progress Administration laborers, the Bandstand, located in Continental Park, was originally designed for the 40-member, 2nd Coast Artillery Band.

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the chamberlin

16The Chamberlin

(second Chamberlin hotel)
Constructed in 1928, this building replaced the original 1896 Chamberlin Hotel, which was destroyed by a fire in 1920. Today, the Chamberlin is an active senior living community.

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saint mary star of the sea catholic church

17Saint Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church

Built in 1903, this building replaced the original 1860 church structure. The two original steeples have since been removed. Today, an active congregation still remains.

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main gate

18Main Gate

Constructed in 1820, the Main Gate was the first portion of the fort to be completed. On May 23, 1861, three enslaved men known to us today as Frank Baker, James Townsend, and Shepard Mallory fled from Sewell’s Point in Norfolk seeking freedom with the Union Army at Fort Monroe. The following day, Major General Benjamin Butler declared them “Contraband of War.” Thousands of enslaved people would follow finding freedom at Fort Monroe during the American Civil War, earning it the name “Freedom’s Fortress.”

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fort monroe arsenal

19Fort Monroe Arsenal

Built in 1860, on the eve of the American Civil War, the arsenal produced gun carriages and stored weapons and ammunition.

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contraband quarters

20Contraband Quarters

Following the “Contraband Decision” of 1861, thousands of enslaved men, women, and children fled to Fort Monroe seeking their freedom. This influx of people led to the creation of several “contraband” camps. This general area was the site of one such camp in 1863. Other larger camps were established in nearby Phoebus and Hampton, and as far away as Portsmouth, Yorktown, and Norfolk.

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contraband hospital

21Contraband Hospital

Fort Monroe’s “Contraband” Hospital was constructed in 1865 to treat the injured and sick. Harriet Tubman conducted an inspection of the Hospital at the request of the Sanitary Commission in 1865.

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Dining Options

A Firehouse Coffee 1881

Coffee, pastries, and sandwiches.
Open for breakfast and lunch.

757-251-6285

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B The Deadrise at Old Point Marina

Salads, sandwiches, and light fare.
Open for lunch and dinner.

757-788-7190

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C The Channel Bistro & The Chesapeake Dining Room

(Both located inside the Chamberlin) Due to COVID-19 restrictions the restaurants are currently closed to the public
The Chesapeake Dining Room offers traditional selections in a formal dining room and is open for brunch and dinner.
The Channel Bistro offers Bistro fare and is open for lunch.  

757-637-7200

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D Paradise Ocean Club

Caribbean-themed fare.
Open for lunch and dinner seasonally.

757-224-0290

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E Oozlefinch Beers & Blending

Local food trucks and craft brews.

757-224-7042

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Explore The History and Legacy of Freedom

Leisurely explore 21 unique sites full of history, architecture, and nature on a self-guided tour of Fort Monroe. Beginning at the Casemate Museum, you’ll make your way to stops like Quarters No. 1, where President Abraham Lincoln stayed for four nights as he and others planned the attack on Norfolk during the American Civil War; to the Water Battery, which housed 42 cannons as part of the Fort’s defenses. After you’ve enjoyed the sites, or even along the way, stop in for a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants here at Fort Monroe.

The sites identified on the map are within easy walking distance of each other. The entire tour takes around 90 minutes. Several sites on the tour are located in residential areas or near offices. Please respect the occupants’ privacy and work environment.

Guided tours of the Casemate Museum are available for groups of 10 or more for a fee and should be arranged at least two weeks in advance. Call 757-788-3391 for reservations.