Fort Monroe in Hampton Virginia is expected to be designated a National Monument by President Barack Obama this Tuesday.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in a phone interview Saturday that Obama would use powers granted to him under the Antiquities Act to preserve the former Army base and hundreds of acres of open space along the Chesapeake Bay
Hampton Va, Mayor Molly Ward said, “We are thrilled and grateful that the President has chosen to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate a major portion of Fort Monroe as a National Monument.”
Since the closing of the base was announced in 2005, the City has worked with citizens and other elected officials to ensure that the history and beauty of the fort be protected as a public place.
“This effort has shown what we can do when we put our political differences aside and work for the common good,” said Ward. “We have achieved this goal with bipartisan support of Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner; Congressmen Randy Forbes, Scott Rigell, Bobby Scott and Rob Wittman; Governor Bob McDonnell and his administration; the City of Hampton; a variety of dedicated conservation partners including the National Park Conservation Association and the National Trust for Historic Preservation; and individual advocates, historians and citizen groups, particularly the Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park.
“A National Monument at Fort Monroe will give the fort the stature it deserves in our Nation’s history. Very few Americans know the story of the Contraband Slaves, and how slavery really ended in the United States. I believe the significance of the President’s designation, and the significance of Fort Monroe, will continue to grow in years to come as its story becomes known.”
In addition, said Ward, it will provide an economic boost to Hampton and help strengthen the Hampton Roads region as a strong tourist attraction.
“Having a National Monument, especially one of such importance, will have an enormous impact on the economy of the City of Hampton and the Hampton Roads region. Studies consistently show that National Parks create jobs, and increase adjacent property values. This designation will help the City and the village of Phoebus regain the vitality and jobs lost through the Army’s departure and the base closure.”
Fort Monroe is the largest stone fort ever built in the United States and it has seen an interesting history over the years since construction began in 1819 as part of a plan of coastal defenses after the British burned Washington, D. C. during the War of 1812. This designation will help ensure that Ft. Monroe will exist as a tourist destination and that its history is not lost..