Fort Monroe National Monument | PARK AT A GLANCE

Moat around Fort Monroe

Moat around Fort Monroe

PARK OVERVIEW

Fort Monroe National Monument preserves the largest masonry fort ever built in the United States. Construction started in 1819 and lasted until 1834, with minor construction projects continuing for years more. The fort is situated on a peninsula that juts out into the Hampton Roads, a section of water between present day Hampton and Norfolk, Virginia, where the James, Elizabeth, and Nansemond Rivers all come together before entering the Chesapeake Bay. Originally known as Point Comfort, the strategic importance of this land has been recognized since the early days of British colonialism in the Americas.

Before aerial warfare, to invade another country a navy was needed to transport soldiers to the battlefield. Should the enemy have access to the Hampton Roads it could travel far into the interior of Virginia on the James River. Controlling the channel was vital to defending the country, and the best way to do so would be to build a coastal fort that could rain down lead on any enemy ships that tried passing. What better way to control the Hampton Road than with a coastal fort on Point Comfort.

Fort Monroe operated as a military installation until 2011 when it was finally decommissioned. President Obama designated the fort as a National Monument on November 1, 2011. Because this is a relatively new National Park, activities are still in the planning stages. At this time the only attractions for park visitors are the Casemate Museum that covers the history of the fort and a walking tour of the fort and the grounds just outside.

The National Park Service also owns the land on the northern end of the peninsula. There are three decrepit coastal batteries—Battery DeRussy, Battery Anderson-Ruggles, and Battery Church—but all are shuttered and not open to the public. The former officers’ club, now called the Paradise Ocean Club, was renovated in 2012 and reopened as a fee-based private pool and beach club for members and day trippers. In addition, there is a campground on the property that has been around for years. It was originally for military personnel and families when the fort was still active, but today anyone can stay at the RV and tent campsites.

OPERATING HOURS

The Casemate Museum

  • March-December: daily from 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM
  • January and February: Tuesday through Sunday from 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM
  • Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve Day and Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day

The grounds are open from 5 AM to midnight year-round.

Times can always change, so before making travel plans be sure to get the latest schedule on the National Park Service’s official Operating Hours and Seasons web page for Fort Monroe National Monument.


FEES

There is no fee to enter Fort Monroe National Monument. There is a fee to use the campground and the facilities of the Paradise Ocean Club.


SCHEDULING YOUR VISIT

Casemate Museum
allow 1-3 hours

Fort Walking Tour
allow 2 hours


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Last updated on April 7, 2020
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