Cape Henry Lighthouse

VLR Listing Date


NRHP Listing Date


NHL Listing Date


NRHP Reference Number


This landmark commanding the entrance to Hampton Roads was the first lighthouse authorized, fully completed, and lighted by the newly organized federal government. The bid for its construction was approved by President George Washington. Put into operation in October 1792, the tapered octagonal structure faced with hammer-dressed sandstone ashlar was the first of three lighthouses designed and built by John McComb, Jr. of New York. McComb’s original drawings for the structure are in the New-York Historical Society. The lighthouse function was taken over by a new tower erected nearby in 1881. The old lighthouse was deeded to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (now Preservation Virginia) in 1930 and is now maintained as a museum. It stands near the spot where English colonists first set foot on Virginia soil in 1607.

Last Updated: June 2, 2023

Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.

VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

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