Virginia State Seal Virginia Department of Historic Resources

182-0002 Cape Charles Historic District

Cape Charles Historic District
Monroe Avenue streetscape -- Photo credit: David Edwards/DHR, 1988

*Click on image to enlarge.

For additional information, read the Nomination Form PDF

See link(s) below to view additional documentation.

VLR Listing Date 08/15/1989

NRHP Listing Date 01/03/1991

NRHP Reference Number 90002122; AD90002122

The Northampton County town of Cape Charles was laid out in 1883-1884 at the southern terminus of the New York, Philadelphia, and Norfolk Railroad. The town owes its existence to its harbor, which, following dredging, enabled the railroad company to transport loaded cars by barge across the Chesapeake Bay to Norfolk. The town developed quickly and became the largest community on Virginia’s Eastern Shore at the turn of the 20th century. The buildings that comprise the Cape Charles Historic District were constructed on a twenty-seven-block grid dominated by a central park from which four landscaped streets extended. The remarkably intact architectural fabric ranges from small vernacular workers’ housing of the 1880s to early-20th-century architect-designed commercial, residential, and municipal buildings. The preservation of the town’s historic character was prompted by the cessation of freight and passenger ferries across the bay in the 1950s. Development was arrested and Cape Charles became frozen in time.

Additional documentation was submitted to the National Register in 2019 providing more current information about the district’s physical condition and history based on a recent comprehensive survey of the district and including new research into the district’s historical significance.
[NRHP Accepted: 4/23/2019]

2019 Additional Documentation

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

Updated: September 15, 2022