Due to the current Coronavirus Pandemic, the Cape Henry Lighthouse will be open under the following conditions:
- Open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, starting August 14, 2020, from 9am to 5pm
- Visitors need to show a military ID or another similar ID that allows base access (including dependent IDs, retirees, or DOD civilians)
- Visitors can go to gift shop and up to the base of the lighthouse only. No climbing will be permitted at this time.
There are two lighthouses located at Cape Henry within Fort Story military base near the northern end of Virginia Beach.
While the original Cape Henry Lighthouse is the 4th oldest lighthouse in the country, it was the first lighthouse authorized by the U.S. government, dating from 1792. In fact, it was the first federal construction project authorized by President George Washington after the Revolutionary War, for an original contract amount of $15,200 (an additional $2,500 was required to finish the lighthouse). In 1881, a newer lighthouse was constructed 350 feet from the original.
The original Cape Henry Lighthouse was acquired in 1930 by Preservation Virginia and a brick lining and an iron stairway were added to the interior in 1867. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark on January 29, 1964. In 2002 the American Society of Civil Engineers designated the lighthouse a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. The original and newer lighthouses were each placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966 and 2002, respectively. The original lighthouse is open to the public and an unimpeded coastal view can be enjoyed from the 360-degree lantern room.
Before visiting Cape Henry Lighthouse, be sure to read additional information on location, arrival, and rules and regulations. Please note, visitors without an authorized government ID will be required to board a shuttle to be transported to the historic sites.