One of the most fun and interesting aspects of Harbor’s Edge is its proximity to so many other unique-to-Norfolk buildings and landmarks. The one closest to us is only a few steps away! Fort Norfolk, located at 801 Front Street, is one of Norfolk’s oldest historical sites. It was authorized in 1794 by President George Washington as one in a series of fortifications along the “Maritime Frontier” to protect 19 American harbors. It is the last remaining of those 18th century defenses.

The site, originally made of earthen walls with wooden and brick supports, spans four acres long and sits right on the edge of the Elizabeth River. It includes earthwork embankments, ramparts, a dungeon, officers’ quarters, powder magazine, barracks and a guardhouse. Most of the fort’s structures date back to 1810.

It was built to protect Norfolk during the War of 1812. During the Civil War, Confederate forces seized the fort and used it to defend Norfolk and Portsmouth. Its magazine was used to supply the CSS Virginia (Merrimack) during its battle with the USS Monitor. In 1862, the fort was recaptured by the Union Army and used as a prison. It later became an ordnance depot for the Navy. In 1923, the fort was occupied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and they still own Fort Norfolk to this day. (Source:  https://www.virginia.org/Listings/HistoricSites/FortNorfolk/)

Checking it out is figuratively and literally priceless – admission is free! Both guided and self-guided tours are available. Their hours for self-guided tours are 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM Monday through Friday. The Norfolk Historical Society conducts guided tours on Sundays at 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM in June through September. All you need to bring is your diver’s license or any other valid federal or state-issued photo ID card! Harbor’s Edge is honored to be neighbors with a place so rich in history.

Julie Deriso

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