Guide to National Historic Landmark Fort Monroe
#3 - by the Postern Bridge is the Old Cistern
#4 - Lee's Quarters (a private residence)
#5 - Flagstaff Bastion which commands a view of Hampton Roads. (Hampton Roads is the name of the harbor - it isn't a road for wheeled vehicles)
#6 Jefferson Davis Memorial Park
#11 East Gate
#13 Water Battery
#14 Seacoast Batteries
#15 Old Point Comfort Lighthouse
#16 Engineer Wharf built in 1818 to receive construction materials for the fort
#17 Chamberlin Hotel - this is the 4th hotel on this spot and opened in 1928. - Now closed
#18 Mile Post Zero - from this point the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad measured distances westward 664.9 to Cincinnati Ohio. A complete walking tour would take about 90 minutes.
Photos of #3 #6, and #15 are at Old Point Comfort
Photo of #5 and #18
Old Point Comfort and Fort Monroe
"Old Point Comfort Lighthouse"
There are two lighthouses with the name "Point Comfort". One is New Point Comfort, and one is Old Point Comfort.
A more commanding presence at the point, dwarfing the lighthouse is the Chamberlain Hotel. The Chamberlain served for years as a destination for steamboat travelers from Baltimore. The hotel currently on the site was constructed in 1926 after the original burned in 1920. Much of the Chamberlain Hotel had been restored and featured an impressive lobby and dining room. The lobby display cases which depicted the history of the hotel and the steamers that used to bring visitors to the Chamberlain hotel resort and the Chamberlain's rooms which offer excellent views of Fort Monroe and the Chesapeake Bay are unfortunately no longer available because the hotel has gone out of business - a collateral effect from 9-11.
The Spirit on the Seventh Floor:
"You could try hanging a ''do not disturb'' sign at your door if you have seventh-floor room at the Chamberlain Hotel at Fort Monroe, but don't count on it staying quiet. When the original hotel was on fire many years ago, a young girl dashed back into the building to try to find her father. But he had already evacuated from the hotel and by the time she found out, she was fatally trapped inside on the seventh floor. Ever since they rebuilt the Chamberlain, hotel employees swear they can hear the girl banging on the walls and looking out the window, hoping against hope she will be saved."
- Daniel Rivkin
Old Point Comfort is on the Hampton side of Hampton Roads in front of Fort Monroe, which is a currently occupied Army Fort. In this picture you can see the moat walls and the port for cars.
Fort Monroe was built between 1819 and 1834, but the history of fortifications on the site goes back much further. As early as 1608, Captain John Smith recognized the importance of building a fort at Point Comfort, as the English colonists called this land. In 1609 they built Fort Algernourne here, with the mission of protecting the approaches to the colony at Jamestown.
When the United States entered the War of 1812 against Great Britain, the young nation soon found that its old systems of defense were inadequate to protect its coasts and port cities. The capture and burning of Washington, D.C. in 1814 was a hard lesson. But from that experience grew a new system of coastal defenses, of which the first and largest was Fort Monroe.
Fort Monroe’s original mission was to protect the entrance to Hampton Roads and the several port cities that had access to its waters. The fort accomplished this mission by mounting an impressive complement of the most powerful artillery of the time, 32-pounder guns with a range of over one mile. This was just enough range to cover the main shipping channel into the area.
In 1824, the fort received another important mission when it was chosen as the site for the Army’s new Artillery School of Practice.
During the Civil War, Fort Monroe was quickly reinforced so that it would not fall to Confederate forces. Fort Monroe is also the place at which Major General Benjamin Butler made his famous “contraband” decision, by which escaping slaves reaching Union lines would not be returned to bondage.
By World War II Fort Monroe served as headquarters for an impressive array of coast artillery guns ranging from 3-inch rapid fire guns to 16-inch guns capable of firing a 2,000 pound projectile 25 miles. In addition, the Army controlled submarine barriers and underwater mine fields. But this vast array of armaments was all made obsolete by the development of the long-range bomber and the aircraft carrier.
After the operational armament was removed, Fort Monroe received a mission that it still maintains to this day. Since World War II the major headquarters that have been stationed here have all been responsible for training soldiers for war. Since 1973 Fort Monroe has been home to the Training And Doctrine Command, which combines the training of soldiers with the development of operational doctrine and the development and procurement of new weapons systems.