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Casemate Museum Of Fort Monroe

Ancient Ontario Smoking Pipes

The Construction of Historic Fort Monroe

The smoking pipe was a distinctive cultural feature of thepre-contact Iroquoian-speaking peoples in Ontario, including theHuron and their ancestors. Most were made of pottery, but sometimesstone was also used. These pipes show a significant degree ofindividual craftsmanship, yet still conform to certain sociallyaccepted styles or types, based on bowl shape and decoration, asidentified by archaeologists. Pipe stems were sometimes decoratedtoo.

Effigy pipes appear in the Ontario archaeological record fromabout the 14th century until after European contact inthe 17th century. Their bowls were modelled intoanthropomorphic or zoomorphic figures, or ‘effigies.’ Research indicates thatthe style of zoomorphic figures remained comparatively unchangedover the period. Representations include salamanders, snakes, owls,bears, and wolves or dogs. The most common effigy was the humanfigure, in particular the face, of which there are many differentforms and embellishments.

Various interpretations of effigy pipes have been described andpublished over the last hundred or more years. Their meaningappears to be complex, requiring multiple explanations that arespecific to each effigy. Some zoomorphic figures may represent clanor lineage totems, others may be cosmological symbols. Human facesmay have an association with medicine mask ceremonies or withpowerful or influential individuals.

Fort Monroes Casemate Museum Reopens Ready To Tell A More Inclusive Story

Françoise Bonnell, Fort Monroe’s Director of Museums, Education and Interpretation, stands inside the updated entrance to the Casemate Museum on Fort Monroe Tuesday afternoon June 15, 2021.

HAMPTON, Va. The mannequins perched in the Casemate Museums window had to go.

They were rotting, taking up space in exhibits, making the place smell musty.

That was months ago. As of this week, the museum looks noticeably clutter-free, if not empty and not because its been shut during the pandemic.

Gone are some old mattresses and unrepairable relics from exhibits. Gone are covers over windows dimming the light filtering in. Other things, such as some pictures and periodicals, were removed too but stored in archives for now. Also gone is the musty smell.

Twenty, or so, mannequins that came out of here, said Françoise Bonnell, Fort Monroes director of museums, education and interpretation. The problem is they dont represent the history of Fort Monroe. And why dont they represent the history of Fort Monroe? Because theyre all white, theyre all men.

Im moving towards a complete gallery, a complete museum redesigned, from the inside out, from one end to the other, with, instead of staggered displays with lots of text on the walls, theres interactives, theres lights, theres motion, theres sound. We have to maintain the environment. And you cant do that when you have so much stuff everywhere.

Popular Types Of Attractions In Hampton

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Best Time To Visit Fort Monroe National Monument

The best time to visit Fort Monroe National Monument may depend on your personal preferences and interests. If you prefer mild weather and enjoy outdoor activities, the spring and fall months may be a good time to visit. If you prefer warmer weather and enjoy participating in the events and festivals, the summer and early fall may be a good time to visit.

Best Things To Do In Fort Monroe National Monument

MidAtlantic DayTrips: Fort Monroe

Many of the historic fort buildings are currently occupied, when exploring the grounds please respect the resident’s privacy by not peering into windows or opening gates.

Use caution when walking the ramparts that circle the top of the fort. Do not venture too close to the edge of the fort walls and stay clear of the moat.

Visitor Center

The visitor and education center is not on the fort grounds it is across a small bridge near the water. You can park near the Casemate Museum and easily walk over to the museum. It is a great walk through the fort walls.

The visitor center has exhibits, a small park store, and information on the fort.

There are great signs all over the park detailing the walking tour.

The Junior Ranger Booklet can also be downloaded here.

Casemate Museum

This partner-operated museum presents the complex history of Old Point Comfort and Fort Monroe across more than four centuries.

Access to the museum is by time reservation entry through the visitor center. One can also call 757-690-8181 or visit: to make a reservation online.

The Casemate Museum is operated by the Commonwealth of Virginia through the Fort Monroe Authority.

Admission is free and the facility is wheelchair accessible.

The Casemate Museum is open daily from 10:30 am – 4:30 pm and closed on Thanksgiving, December 24, December 25, and January 1.

Old Comfort Point Lighthouse

The lighthouse is maintained by the US Coastguard

Building #1, Quarters No. 1

Building 17

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Details About Fort Monroe National Monument

Size – 565 acres

NP is currently ranked at out of 63National Parks by Size.

Date Established


Park visitation statistics are not available.

Learn more about themost visited andleast visited National Parks in the US

National Park Address

41 Bernard Road, Building #17, Fort Monroe, VA 23651-1001

Where Is Fort Monroe National Monument

Fort Monroe National Monument is located in Hampton, Virginia, a city located on the southern tip of the Virginia peninsula.

Estimated distance from major cities nearby

Norfolk, VA – 20 miles

Where is the National Park Visitor Center?

The Fort Monroe Visitor and Education Center is located at 30 Ingalls Road, Hampton, Virginia

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History Of Fort Monroe National Monument

Fort Monroe National Monument preserves the largest fort ever built by the American Military. The site where Fort Monroe now stands has guarded the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding area since 1609.

The Fort Monroe National Monument tells the story of America from the time of arrival of the first colonists in Virginia. The site has witnessed several watershed moments, including the arrival of the first enslaved Africans, who landed at Old Point Comfort in 1619.

The stonewalled bastion fort that makes up the Fort Monroe National Monument was constructed in the 1830s as part of the Third System of fortifications. The fort was named in honor of the fifth president of America, and Founding Father, James Monroe.

Fort Monroe has hosted several famous figures, such as Robert E. Lee, the writer Edgar Allan Poe, and Abraham Lincoln.

Old Point Comfort

In 1607 three ships under the command of Captain John Smith and Christopher Newport carrying the first colonist arrived in America. They established Jamestown Virginia, and with it the British colony of Virginia. Shortly after, in 1609, Fort Algernourne was built on the strategically important site of Old Point Comfort.

Fort Algernourne was a wooden stockade fort that protected the area from 1609 until 1622. The fort was renamed the Point Comfort Fort in 1612.

The Point Comfort Fort, along with several other wooden stockades, protected the newly established settlement.

Building Fort Monroe

Fort Monroe During the American Civil War

Fort Monroe Casemate Museum

Fort Monroe’s State of the Fort 2022

Completed in 1834 and named in honor of President Monroe, the entire stone fort is a historic site, but most visitors head straight for the Casemate Museum in the outer walls.

This active military installation was famed during the Civil War as the “Freedom Fort” by blacks escaping from slavery. General Benjamin Butler, refusing to return runaway slaves, kept them as “Contrabands” of war, assuring their freedom.

In addition, Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ prison cell is located inside the museum.

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What Other Similar Attractions Are Recommended In Hampton

About Fort Monroe National Monument

Fort Monroe’s history spans from the 17th to the 21st century, from American Indians to Captain John Smith’s journeys to American Civil War history. The Fort was known first as “The Gibraltar of the Chesapeake” the bastion of defense and later as “Freedom’s Fortress,”

Originally named “Pointe Comfort” by Captain John Smith in 1607 when the first English colonists came to America. It was here that the settlers of Jamestown established Fort Algernon in 1609.

Fort Monroe is the largest four-star bastion fort and the largest of the Third System of fortifications ever built in the United States. The fort was named after US President James Monroe.

It was developed as a coastal defense strategy to protect the Chesapeake Bay. The fort took 15 years to complete between 1815 and 1836.

The fort construction was built under the supervision of Robert E. Lee who was at the time a U.S. Army Lieutenant who later commanded the Confederate forces in the Civil War.

Ft. Monroe was the site of the first landing of enslaved Africans in 1619. They had been captured by the White Lion ship. The ship traded the 20 Africans for provisions and supplies so they could make their trip back to England.

This marked the beginning of African enslavement in the Virginia Colony.

In May 1861, Major General Benjamin Butler made the famous “Fort Monroe Doctrine,” determining that escaping slaves who reached Union lines would be considered contraband and not be returned to bondage.

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Casemate Museum Of Fort Monroe

  • James CJuly 28, 2018Fantastic museum with great information on the coastal defenses and Fort Monroes role in Civil War.
  • Dave W.February 16, 2013Best place for free history
  • Jen ImbimboFebruary 13, 2016Interesting stuff…and it’s free
  • Katie SheetzApril 24, 2012Judith is the best tour guide!
  • Deb StotelmyerMarch 23, 2013Loads of information!
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Hampton: Four Centuries on the Bay

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What To Look For

  • The construction of Fort Monroe the largest stone fort in America and the people who built it
  • The Civil War period at Fort Monroe and the forts role as a place of refuge for Contraband
  • The aftermath of the Civil War
  • The American Missionary Association and the founding of Hampton University in 1868
  • 19th-century biographies: Booker T. Washington, R. R. Moton, Mary Peake and more
  • Current biographies of individuals and groups related to Fort Monroe and the Contraband Decision

Is Fort Monroe National Monument Worth Visiting

Yes! We truly enjoyed our visit to the park. Being able to walk by the historic buildings, learn more about on-going preservation work, explore miles of waterfront, and soak in the scenic views was amazing.

We were really impressed with the historic preservation that has been done while the area is still used as living area.

There is so much rich history and historic resources in the park.

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Casemate Museum At Fort Monroe Authority

Physical Address: 301 North Sheppard Street / Mailing Address: 3126 West Cary Street #447Richmond, VA 23221

who we are

VAM supports over 3,000 members, including individuals, businesses, and institutions ranging from historic houses to botanical gardens, aquariums and zoos, art museums and galleries, battlefields, military museums, historical societies, and more. #vamuseums

Homepage Photo Credit: Library of Virginia“Virginia. Discovered and Discribed by Captain John Smith 1606. Graven by William Hole 1624 by John Smith”

Things To Know Before Your Visit To Fort Monroe National Monument

Lettering removed from Jefferson Davis arch at Fort Monroe

Entrance fee

$0.00 There is no entrance fee to visit the park

Planning a National Park vacation? America the Beautiful/National Park Pass covers entrance fees for an entire year to all US National Park Sites and over 2,000 Federal Recreation Fee Sites.

The park pass covers everyone in the car for per vehicle sites and for up to 4 adults for per-person sites.

Buy on and REI will donate 10% of pass proceeds to the National Forest Foundation, National Park Foundation and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities.

Learn more about National Park Passes for parks that have an entrance fee.

Free Entrance Days -Mark your calendars with the five free entrance days the National Park Service offers annually.

Time Zone

The Junior Ranger Booklet can also be downloaded here.

Casemate Museum

This partner-operated museum presents the complex history of Old Point Comfort and Fort Monroe across more than four centuries.

Access to the museum is by time reservation entry through the visitor center. One can also call 757-690-8181 or visit: to make a reservation online.

The Casemate Museum is operated by the Commonwealth of Virginia through the Fort Monroe Authority.

Admission is free and the facility is wheelchair accessible.

The Casemate Museum is open daily from 10:30 am – 4:30 pm and closed on Thanksgiving, December 24, December 25, and January 1.

Old Comfort Point Lighthouse

The lighthouse is maintained by the US Coastguard

Building #1, Quarters No. 1

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Fort Monroe Walking Tour: Stop #1

The name Casemate Museum is somewhat misleading, for it sounds like you are about to enter a museum dedicated to casemates, which are fortified structures from which guns are fired. However, thats not it at all. The name comes from the simple fact that the museum is housed in the casemates of Fort Monroe. When the museum opened in 1951 it consisted only of the room where Confederate President Jefferson Davis was held prisoner for charges of treason after he was captured when the Civil War ended. Since then it has expanded to cover the entire history of Fort Monroe.

Diorama demonstrates the traditional use of a forts casemates

The Casemate Museum is open daily between the hours of 10:30 AM and 4:30 PM from March through December. It is closed on Mondays in January and February, but open the other days of the week. It is also closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day, and New Years Day.

Tours of the museum for individuals are self-guided. There is no fee. Guided tours are available only for groups of 10 or more people and must be booked two weeks in advance. There is a fee for group tours . Tours are not conducted by the National Park Service, but by the Fort Monroe Authority. For information, visit the Casemate Museum web page.

Model of what the first fort on Point Comfort might have looked like

British siege mortar that was captured during the War of 1812

Model of Fort Monroe

Exhibits on the ex-slave community that formed at the fort

Model of a disappearing gun

Can I Rent Houses Near Fort Monroe’s Casemate Museum

Yes, of course. Vrbo has 570 Houses near Fort Monroe’s Casemate Museum. Our other popular types of vacation rentals near Fort Monroe’s Casemate Museum include:

  • Condos/Apartments: 360 rentals available
  • Cabins: 72 rentals available
  • Studios: 287 rentals available

But you can also enjoy a great stay in one of our other vacation rentals including Townhouses and more.

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Fort Monroe Visitor & Education Center


Start your visit at the Fort Monroe Visitor and Education Center where you can get information about the area, pick up guided maps for the walking tour and the Fort Monroe National Monument. You can also pick up your ticket for a FREE visit to the Casemate Museum, and learn about other visitor experience and special tours.

Within the fort is the Casemate Museum, which chronicles the military history of Fort Monroe from the construction of Fort Algernourne, the first defensive fortification at the site in 1609, through the last major command to be headquartered at Fort Monroe, the Armys Training and Doctrine Command. The museum features the room where Jefferson Davis was held briefly as prisoner following the American Civil War, highlights the 1861 Contraband of War decision that granted three enslaved men, and thousands who followed, sanctuary at Fort Monroe, earning it the nickname Freedoms Fortress.


Our museum and visitor center doors may be temporarily closed, but your access to Fort Monroe and all it offers continues! Check us out at and follow us on social media at and .

You can explore Fort Monroe and visit us virtually at Virtural Tour. You can also enjoy the outdoors and take a newly designed walking tour through the Old Fort. Pick up a guide at either site or access it here Walking Tour Guide.



Getting To Fort Monroe National Monument

Local Attractions

Closest Airports

Norfolk International Airport – 16 miles

Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport – 17 miles

International Airports

Richmond International Airport – 75 miles

Washington Dulles International Airport – 200 miles

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport – 220 miles

Raleigh-Durham International Airport – 230 miles

Regional Airports

Chesapeake Regional Airport – 35 miles

Middle Peninsula Regional Airport – 55 miles

Elizabeth City Regional Airport – 70 miles

Emporia Greensville Regional Airport – 90 miles

Northeastern Regional Airport – 95 miles

Driving Directions

From I-64 East or West take Exit 268 Top of Exit Left at light onto S Mallory St . Right at 2nd light onto E Mellen St. Continue crossing a small bridge .

Continue straight at the light onto Ingalls Rd . Left onto Ruckman Rd towards fort Main Gate, pass through fort walls Right onto Bernard Rd, angled parking on Left .

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