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Cape Henry Lighthouse

ca. 1792
583 Atlantic Ave., Fort Story, VA 23459

Cape Henry Lighthouse Front

Cape Henry Lighthouse:

  • The first federally funded lighthouse, was built to guide maritime commerce at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay

  • Standing near the “First Landing” site where English settlers arrived in 1607

  • Stood sentinel since it was completed in 1792

  • Authorized by George Washington and overseen by Alexander Hamilton

  • Designed by New York architect John McComb  

  • In active use for nearly a century before being replaced by a new cast iron lighthouse still standing nearby 

  • It is one of the oldest surviving lighthouses in the United States

 Preservation Virginia acquired the Cape Henry Lighthouse in 1930 when Congress deeded the house and 1.77 acres of land to the organization in order to preserve it and make it accessible to the public. Over the years lighthouse and its surroundings have been restored including repairing the lantern after damage from Hurricane Barbara in 1953, repairing the damaged original Aquia sandstone and restoring the surrounding dunes.


Today, visitors to the Cape Henry Lighthouse can climb to the top of the tower to enjoy spectacular views of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. 

Today visitors to the Cape Henry Lighthouse can climb to the top of the tower to enjoy spectacular views of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. 

During the summer months, the temperature at the top of the tower can reach extreme levels. Cape Henry Lighthouse will close the tower when the temperature inside reaches 110°. Visitors will still be able to walk to the top of the dune and shop in the museum store. Winter weather advisories also may effect the opening of the lighthouse. If you have questions about closings call 757-422-9421

Visitor Information


January 3 - March 15

10am - 4pm
March 17th - October 31

10am - 5pm

November 1 - December 30

10am - 4pm

Closed on March 22nd for the Shamrock Marathon, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day and New Years Eve and Day and January 2nd. 


Preservation Virginia Members: Free (Become a Member)
Adults (13 & over): $8
Youth (12 & under -- must be 42 inches tall): $6
Adult Group: $5 (call for info)
Youth Group: $5 (must be 42 inches tall, call for info)
Admission for Military, AAA, Senior (55+) $7

Additional Information

Museum store on site

Note to Our Visitors: The Cape Henry Lighthouse is located within Fort Story military base. To visit the lighthouse, you must pass through the security gates of Fort Story at 89th Street and Atlantic Avenue.  Please have identification including a picture with you for all visitors aged 16 years or older. This ID should be a student or state or Federal issued ID card. Proof of vehicle insurance and current vehicle registration is also required for admission to Fort Story Military Base.The security personnel have the right to examine your car before issuing a pass to enter the military base and visit the lighthouse. While we apologize for the inconvenience, we respect the military's interest in force protection. The security guards are courteous and efficient, but please allow a few extra minutes for entry into the site. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

For your safety and comfort, please observe the following rules for climbing the Cape Henry Lighthouse:

  • You must be at least 42 inches tall to climb the lighthouse.
  • Children may not be carried up the steps.
  • Backpacks and frontpacks are not allowed on the staircase.
  • We strongly discourage flip-flops


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