Things to do near campus The Casemate Museum The Casemate Museum is located on Fort Monroe at 20 Bernard Road, Hampton, VA 23651. (The first exit after the Westbound Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel). A 25 minute drive from campus.
Photo Essay written by Amanda David Assistant News Editor
Fort Monroe, located in Hampton, Va., is the largest stone fort in the country. Inside the fort lies the Casemate Museum which documents the long history of Fort Monroe.
The museum is inside the fort, so lighting is dim and the atmosphere is damp. Scattered throughout the museum are military uniforms, weapons, old newspaper clippings, plaques of information and mannequins on display with various props ranging from cannons to pianos.
Fort Monroe was built between 1819 and 1834 as a way to protect the Hampton Roads area from a Naval attack. It was initially called Freedom Fort because it served as a refuge for thousands of runaway slaves during the civil war.
Former Confederate President Jefferson Davis' prison cell is located inside the museum. Originally, the Casemate Museum opened in 1951 to show where Davis stayed as a prisoner for two years.
On September 15, 2011 the Army will leave Fort Monroe and the state will assume control of the 570-acre property. The fort's fate is still undecided. The Fort Monroe Authority is attempting to get the fort into National Park status. The museum will continue normal operation after the Army leaves.
Visitors are welcome to venture outside the museum and explore the ramparts of Fort Monroe. The top of the fort is covered with grass and giant metal disks embedded into the ground where cannons used to nest.
A walk around the ramparts is 1.3 miles and offers a good view of the area surrounding the fort, including the historical buildings and a view of the Chesapeake Bay.
The City of Hampton's tourism bureau created iPod walking tours for many places in Hampton, including Fort Monroe. Download the hourlong tour from their website.
One of the most unique characteristics of the fort is a pet graveyard on the ramparts. The animals range from dogs to cats to birds to rabbits. Most are adorned with stone plaques any human would be proud to have as a headstone.
Until September, Fort Monroe will be an active operating base. Which means that visitors will need proper photo identification and a vehicle registration to gain access to the base. The Casemate Museum is open from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. seven days per week, closing on major holidays. Admission is free. For more information about the Casemate Museum call 757-788-3391.