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    Fort Monroe's Casemate MuseumFort Monroe's Casemate Museum Hampton, Virginia
    Fort Monroe, is also called Fortress Monroe, and is a military installation at Hampton, Virginia, at the Old Point Comfort that is located at the southern end of the Virginia peninsula, and with Fort Wool, would guard the navigational channel between the Chesapeake Bay and Hampton Roads, that is a natural roadstead at the confluence of the Elizabeth, Nansemond and the James Rivers. The fort is entirely surrounded with a moat, and is the only remaining fort in the nation that is still an active Army base, although it has been scheduled for decommissioning this year; and is the only six sided fort in the nation. In the initial exploration done by Captain Christopher Newport in the earliest days of the colony of Virginia this site was identified and recognized as a strategic defensive location, and in May of 1607, the first permanent English settlement in this country would be located some 25 miles inland from the bay, located along the James River at Jamestown. The land where the fort now sits had been part of Elizabeth Cittie in 1619, then Elizabeth River Shire in 1634 and then included in Elizabeth City County when that was formed in 1643. And in 1952, Elizabeth City County and the nearby town of Phoebus agreed to consolidate with the smaller but independent city of Hampton, that would then become one of the biggest cities of Hampton Roads. In 1609, defensive fortifications would be constructed at Old Point Comfort during the state's first two centuries, but the substantial fort made of stone and become known as Fort Monroe wasn't completed until 1834. The base would be named after the President, James Monroe. All during the Civil War, when the majority of the state had joined the Confederacy, Fort Monroe would continue to stay in Union hands. It would then become historic and symbolic as the site of early freedom for former slaves that had escaped here under the provisions of the contraband policies that would later become the Emancipation Proclamation. Some years after, the former President of the Confederate States, Jefferson Davis, would be held in the area that is now known as Fort Monroe Casemate Museum. The fort is scheduled to close in September of 2011.

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    Hampton History MuseumHampton History Museum Hampton, Virginia
    The Hampton History Museum would actually start in 1952, when local school teacher, Margaret Sinclair, assembled a small exhibit of relics, pictures and documents at the old Syms-Easton School downtown, which led to a bigger one at a downtown storefront display and then to a medium sized building on Mercury Boulevard in 1966. Next to the museum, a reconstructed Kecoughtan Indian village had been installed, which had been a favorite of school children for years, while the museum would gain national recognition for its exhibits of Native Americans and African American themes in its exhibits. About the time the country was starting to celebrate its bicentennial, the Hampton Heritage Foundation sponsored archaeological digs in the downtown area, followed by a number of exhibits that would showcase the relics discovered.  The museum houses nine permanent galleries that have been set up in chronological order so that the first 400 years of the city's development and the areas around it, as the oldest continuous English-speaking colony in the nation. There is an interesting twist to the city's history, it seems to have paralleled that of the country, so that if you come here to learn more about the city and state, then you will also learn more about our nation. The galleries include; the orientation room, the Kecoughtan gallery, the 17th century gallery, the 18th century, the 19th and lastly, the modern Hampton gallery. On the second floor, you can visit the changing gallery that provides a number of temporary exhibits that are sure to fascinate you even more.

April 28, 2011