Salazar Highlights Strong Local, State Support for Historic Preservation of Fort Monroe on the Occasion of its Deactivation
Contact: Adam Fetcher (202) 208-6416
WASHINGTON – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today reported that the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service are working quickly, and in close coordination with state and local partners, to evaluate the potential inclusion of Fort Monroe in the National Park System. Fort Monroe was closed today as an active military installation.
“We have heard loud and clear from the local community, Commonwealth and federal officials, and stakeholders everywhere that Fort Monroe is a place of unique historical and cultural significance that merits protection – and we agree,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “Fort Monroe helps tell the compelling story of our nation’s arc from the Civil War to Civil Rights. With such a rich history, it’s no wonder that so many feel passionately about ensuring the site is preserved for future generations. We look forward to continuing to work hand-in-hand with the Commonwealth and local partners as we review the site and its future potential.”
Fort Monroe is a historic fort in Hampton, Virginia that played a pivotal role in both the establishment and abolition of slavery in the United States. Built between 1819 and 1834, Fort Monroe has occupied a strategic coastal defense position since the earliest days of the Virginia Colony. It was the place where Dutch traders first brought enslaved Africans in1619. During the Civil War, the fort remained in Union possession and became a place for escaped slaves to find refuge, thus earning its nickname “Freedom’s Fortress.”
The 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission recommended that Fort Monroe cease to be used as an Army installation. There has been strong support from the local community and leaders, including Governor Bob McDonnell, Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner, Congressmen Scott Rigell, Bobby Scott, Rob Wittman, J. Randy Forbes and Gerry Connolly, and Hampton Mayor Molly Ward, to designate the fort as a National Park. Secretary Salazar and the National Park Service have held several public meetings in Virginia to hear directly from the community on their preferred option for the future of the site.
Following today’s closure ceremony, the Army will retain ownership and control of Fort Monroe. Once the Army completes its responsibilities under the base realignment and closure process, the majority of the lands will revert to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
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