Spanning 570 acres, Fort Monroe is located in Hampton, Virginia, on Old Point Comfort where the Hampton Roads Harbor and Chesapeake Bay meet. Established as a U.S. Army installation in 1819, this National Historic Landmark District contains a diverse collection of buildings, structures, and landscapes rich in military and American history. Fort Monroe was built between 1819 and 1834, but the history of fortifications on the site goes back nearly four centuries. The fort was originally designed for state-of-the-art siege warfare in the early 1800s.
Under the direction of the Historic Preservation Advisory Group, detailed design standards have been prepared for each individual building on Fort Monroe. The design manual includes information on historic features and their significance, and provides detailed guidelines for reuse (e.g., what must be preserved and what can be modified). The accumulation of all the building information in one place will facilitate developer and tenant evaluation of the many opportunities for adaptive reuse of historic structures, while providing clear guidance on what will be required.
Ongoing engineering studies are evaluating all of Fort Monroe’s major utility systems, the seawall, and flood protection systems. The impact of Hurricane Isabel in 2003 demonstrated the installation’s vulnerability to flooding. Following the hurricane, several improvements were made to the infrastructure systems. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers undertook major repairs to the seawall and started building breakwaters for additional flood protection. This building program was interrupted by the Base Realignment and Closure’s (BRAC) decision to close the installation, and millions of dollars of improvements still need to be completed. In response to the Old Point Comfort geography, surrounded by water, particular attention has been given to the long-term consequences of sea level rise.
On November 1, 2011, President Obama issued Proclamation 8750 establishing the Fort Monroe National Monument. Using authority provided by the Antiquities Act, approximately 325 acres are now reserved for this new National Monument. The Secretaries of the Army and Interior will enter into a Memorandum of Agreement that identifies and assigns the responsibilities of each agency and the required implementing actions.
For more information on the challenges the City of Hampton faced, click here.