Watercolor… this 54-foot tall, octagonal, Point Comfort Light Tower was put into service in 1804, at Old Point Comfort, Hampton Roads, the outermost tip of a small peninsula on the coast of Virginia… the landing site for the first Africans brought to North America as slaves in 1619. The light was constructed to replace a simple navigation beacon erected in 1775, marking entry to the Chesapeake Bay. It was briefly captured by the British during the war of 1812, but not involved in any fighting. After the war, the United States Government built Fort Monroe behind it and never again relinquished control. Although occupying a critical and hotly contested maritime location, marking the Hampton Roads and Norfolk ports… with Union perseverance, and considering that the light sits exposed between the bay and Fort Monroe… the Old Point Comfort Light remained in Federal hands and sustained no damage during the Civil War. The adjacent, current keeper’s house (now a private residence) was built in 1891 to replace an earlier construction. The Old Point Comfort Lighthouse was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Several military fortifications have been built on the point, to protect this vital waterway… the first known only as the “Fort at Old Point Comfort”, was established in 1632. Fort George replaced it in 1728, and then Fort Monroe replaced Ft. George, beginning in 1822 with a construction continuing for 25 years. Ft. Monroe was deactivated as a military reservation in 2005.
… interestingly, there is also a “New Point Comfort” light tower that was put into service the following year, 1805… that is not on Point Comfort, but located further into the Chesapeake, on a small island marking the point of Mobjack Bay. Elzy Burroughs, a member of a family of lighthouse keepers, constructed the old and new Port Comfort lights… both of similar design.