Old Cape Henry Lighthouse

Posted to: Lighthouses Virginia Beach

Average User Rating:
3 stars (2 votes)
Quick Facts

March 16 - Oct. 31, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Nov. 1 - March 15, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

$5 adults (including senior citizens); $3 children ages 3-12; free for children under 3 and APVA Preservation Virginia Members

Gift shop

Built in 1792, the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay and the third oldest still standing in the United States. The sandstone tower, reinforced with a brick lining, stands 90 feet tall. It is the official symbol for the City of Virginia Beach. Alexander Hamilton contracted John McComb Jr. as its designer and mason in 1791. Once the lighthouse was completed in Oct. 1792, George Washington checked the list of candidates who applied to be the keeper. The first keeper was Laban Goffigan of Norfolk, who used fish oil to light the lamps. During the Civil War, Confederate troops purposely damaged the light to make navigation of the Bay more difficult and dangerous for Union troops. In 1870, it was considered unsafe because of large cracks found on six sides of the octagonal tower. Today it is maintained by the Society for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities and is open to the public.

Old Cape Henry Lighthouse
583 Atlantic Avenue
Virginia Beach VA 23459

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Really cool, great photo ops

Old Cape Henry is a beautiful lighthouse. Walking around the outside and climbing up those winding stairs is an adventure. I took lots of pictures which came out really nice. The only thing I didn't like too much was the vehicle search at the entrance and the rude guards, but I guess that's how things go nowadays.

I feel for the security personel, myself...

I didn't know the lighthouses were on an active military base the first time I went and decided on a whim to stop coming back from a long weekend camping trip. Needless to say, the security personel looked at a man and a woman in a full sized 4 wheel drive stuffed to the roof with camping gear (including a 20 pound propane cylinder) rolling up to the gate one hour before closing and rolled their eyes. My partner saved the day however; she had her USMC ID in her purse and sponsored me on base. Thank goodness the Texas shootings haden't happened then.

Now when I go back, the truck is as empty as humanly possible and easily searchable! It's still worth the view and the dolphin spotting just adds to the excitement - take a good pair of binoculars for the best view!

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