Fort Monroe Visitor and Education Center
Fort Monroe Authority,
FORT MONROE is a historic fort near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay with historic significance as the point of arrival of the first African slaves in America in 1619. The site was actively operated as a military installation from prior to the American Revolution until it was decommissioned by the U.S. Army in 2011. Fort Monroe is now jointly operated by the State of Virginia through the Fort Monroe Authority in collaboration with the National Park Service. The proposed Visitor Center will provide visitors with a point of arrival and orientation to the significant historical and recreational amenities of this National Historic Landmark site. Through the adaptive reuse of an original Beaux Arts Style building, which was first built as a Library in 1909 by the Coast Artillery Schools, the Visitor Center will complement the existing Casemate Museum. The Visitor Center will contain visitor amenities, galleries, a gift shop, information desk, archives, and multi-purpose space. Proposed exhibits include the First Arrival story and the Contraband Camp at Fort Monroe, which housed escaped slaves through the period of the Civil War. The facility is planned to open in 2019, corresponding to a planned commemoration. That year will mark the 400th anniversary of the first representative legislative assembly in the New World, the arrival of the first recorded Africans to English North America, the recruitment of English women in significant numbers, the first official English Thanksgiving in North America, and the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of the Virginia Colony.