"Old Point Comfort and Fort Monroe" Hampton by grandmaR

Hampton Travel Guide: 45 reviews and 134 photos

Old Point Comfort Lighthouse

There are two lighthouses with the name "Point Comfort". One is New Point Comfort, and one is Old Point Comfort. This is Old Point Comfort, and it is still in use. New Point Comfort is in another location and is abandoned.

Chamberlain Hotel

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

Fort Monroe

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.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Lots of history
  • In a nutshell:Very interesting free museum
  • Last visit to Hampton: Nov 2000
  • Intro Updated Apr 14, 2012
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Comments (4)

  • May 31, 2009 at 7:32 AM

    Your computer page looks to be needing an update from 2007 to 2009

  • Jun 3, 2008 at 12:11 AM

    Fantastic! I'm using your reportings on the menu @ The Chamberlin in Hampton's new book on resorts- Recipes made in the Chamberlin, Hygeia etc., are going into a wonderful book. Thanks so much- reopening in late 2008.

  • starship's Profile Photo
    Dec 25, 2003 at 6:47 PM

    It would also be interesting to note that Confederate General Robert E. Lee was stationed at Ft. Monroe and had major responsibility for the interior fort's construction and mote defense. Thanks for showcasing some interesting facts from my home town.

  • b1bob's Profile Photo
    Aug 26, 2003 at 7:51 AM

    Nice job. Did you know the Chamberlin is closing down- an indirect victim of 9.11.01.

grandmaR

“"..an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered." G.K. Chesterton”

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