Save Fort Monroe

The Web page of an informal network of people who advocate a UNIFIED national monument or park to transform the split one at Fort Monroe, Virginia—the site of what the Civil War historian Edward Ayers once called “the greatest moment in American history.”*

*Please see the final paragraph in a June 2011 Chronicle of Higher Education profile Virginia officials finally acknowledged this “greatest moment” stature in a 2014 op-ed. The Web page you’re reading is the original Website, created in 2006, of Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park.

New in 2016: Fort Monroe’s Mystery FateWhy all the silence from politicians, reporters, editors and Tidewater opinion leaders concerning Fort Monroe? Most people who follow this decade-old controversy want a revenue-generating, innovatively structured Grand Public Place built on the foundation of a substantial national monument or national park, rather than the present split one. They want due respect for Fort Monroe’s four-centuries-old Chesapeake Bay spirit of place, with public enrichment in every sense: economic, historical, recreational, environmental, cultural. Here are some questions languishing in the silence:
* Any progress on Gov. McAuliffe’s fall 2014 resolve to get the split national monument unified?
* Will the National Trust for Historic Preservation lend its crucial voice to the call for unification, just like the National Parks Conservation Association, the Virginian-Pilot, the Civil War Trust and others?
* The National Trust passionately opposes those James River electrical towers. What about spirit-of-place-deleting condos in the heart of the national monument/park on Fort Monroe’s bayfront?

* After more than four years since designation of a split national monument on parts of Fort Monroe, why is there zero evidence of National Park Service presence?
* Why has the Daily Press gone back to falsely reporting that Fort Monroe is a national monument when in fact it only contains one?

* How will authorities ensure public access to officials’ big-picture “retreat” on Fort Monroe’s future?
* How does the proposed “waterfront park” relate to unification? To what extent is it really just a token measure meant to distract attention from the need for national stewardship of a complete, unsplit, national monument/park on Fort Monroe’s east side (as shown in the illustration below)?
* Given that Hurricane Isabel brought a tenth of a billion dollars in damage to Fort Monroe, what has been done about the Wetlands Watch-criticized lack of flood planning for the envisioned condos?
*What planning, if any, is being done to transform Virginia’s Historic Triangle into a Historic Diamond with Fort Monroe anchoring a corner?

Fort Monroe, Virginia, looks across the lower Chesapeake Bay, over Hampton Roads harbor, deep into four centuries of America's past, and -- if America makes sensible post-Army use of it -- far into the coming centuries. A National Park Service map uses light green to indicate the two parts of the split national monument recently established there. But if it’s true that Fort Monroe saw American history’s greatest moment, that bifurcation is self-evidently preposterous. It’s like marring Monticello with hillside development. Here, red has been added to show the sense-of-place-defining bayfront space that needs to be incorporated into the national monument to transform it from fake to real. [more]



If you want the national monument unified in something like the way that’s suggested by the red area in the illustration above, you’re a member of the informal network Save Fort Monroe. You can take action:
* Please “like” the Save Fort Monroe Facebook page and promote it whenever you can.
* Please join
the Save Fort Monroe e-mail list by sending your e-address to SaveFortMonroe[[[at]]] (Your e-address won’t be used often, and won’t be used for anything except Fort Monroe.)
* Please take every opportunity to promote unification of the split national monument via social media, letters to the editor, online comments, and personally contacting Virginia journalists as well as politicians at all levels. They talk to each other!
Please contact Gov. McAuliffe and encourage him to act on his stated belief that Fort Monroe should be unified. Be sure to stipulate: not token unification via a mere “green connector,” but real unificationfrom Buckroe down to the fortress and from Mill Creek across to the bay. (Ask him to consult the illustration on this Web page!)

Virginian-Pilot editorial again warns against “squandering” Fort Monroe—and again urges unification of the split national monument. (Please see the red area in the illustration above.)

The Daily Press never corrected its many factual blunders in attacking Gov. McAuliffe’s unification plan.

Civil War News update on Fort Monroe from last year begins, “He hasn’t put it in writing, but Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has verbally called for a ‘contiguous national monument’ at Fort Monroe, joining the two federally protected parcels controlled by the National Park Service.” The Tidewater media are mostly ignoring this development, but administration officials say it’s happening. Steve Corneliussen asked the governor about it again at a public event. The governor declared emphatically that it’s happening. This Civil War News article is well worth reading.

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA)—nearly a century old, with a million members—spoke up for unification of the split national monument. The Civil War Trust followed suit a week later. Both organizations are boosting strong signals from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe that he plans to lead the way to unification. NPCA isn’t merely calling for some spirit-of-place-denying “green connector” or for a token walking path around the shoreline perimeter. Instead, NPCA’s public statement calls forthrightly and unambiguously for “[p]rotecting the green space that connects the park’s Star Fort and North Beach area as parkland.” The illustration above uses the color red to highlight that hundred or so acres.

A Norfolk Virginian-Pilot op-ed summarizes Fort Monroe’s political outlook as of summer 2014.  (Please see also a July 5 Newport News Daily Press letter.)

Henry Louis Gates Jr. tells why Fort Monroe’s 1861 special moment in American history matters so much.  (Please note also the vigorous online discussion there.)

Wetlands Watch calls the plan to overdevelop low-lying, ocean-facing Fort Monroe “stupid.” (And the Union of Concerned Scientists warns that sea rise threatens this national treasure.)

Read a lengthy but highly informative online back-and-forth discussion beneath a March 2013 article in National Parks Traveler.

Read the May 22, 2013, op-ed “Fort Monroe self-emancipators’ courageous act changed the world.”

FROM THE POLITICAL RIGHT: Former Virginia Delegate Tom Gear -- commended for seven years of Fort Monroe political leadership by Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park -- argues passionately for making the "phony" national park real by unifying its two separated parts.

FROM THE POLITICAL LEFT: Virginian-Pilot editorials have called for unifying the split national monument by including the missing bayfront land, in order to avoid Fort Monroe’s being permanently “degraded” -- and because to do otherwise would mean “a national treasure will be squandered.” (See “The next step at Fort Monroe,” “Fix the plan for Fort Monroe,” “Governor should protect Wherry” and “Make Fort Monroe a state priority.”)

FROM THE NATIONAL PARKS CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION: "Protect Fort Monroe National Monument's Historic Character." (Excerpt: "The proposed development would separate the two parts of the park, undermine the park’s historic character, and limit public access. We can't let this happen.")

Read a Virginian-Pilot op-ed telling why May 23, 1861 -- not May 24 -- started “the greatest moment in American history.”

Why the map’s red area is so important:  Think Outside the Moat

Three-minute YouTube tour: Cherish Fort Monroe

Article and online discussion at The Root, an online magazine of the Washington Post

Queries, comments, expressions of willingness to help by speaking out: SaveFortMonroe [[[at]]]

Note as of summer 2014: This Web site presents the overwhelming, nearly unanimous view of almost everybody who has followed the decade-long process of determining this national treasure’s post-Army fate: we believe that the split national monument must be unified. The Web site began as, and still holds the URL of,, but the politics of Fort Monroe advocacy changed everything in early 2011. [more]

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26 January, 2016