Cape Henry Lighthouse in Virginia Beach VA

Cape Henry Lightouse

The Cape Henry Lighthouse is a historic landmark in Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA. Built-in 1792, it is one of the oldest lighthouses in the country. This article will explore the history and significance of the Cape Henry Lighthouse and its current state and importance as a tourist destination.

History of Cape Henry Lighthouse

Construction and Design

The Cape Henry Lighthouse was constructed in 1792, and its design was based on the plans of John McComb Jr., a well-known architect. The lighthouse stands 90 feet tall and is built of sandstone and granite. Its original light source was a whale oil lamp, replaced by a Fresnel lens in 1855.

Significance in American History

The Cape Henry Lighthouse played a significant role in American history, particularly during the Revolutionary War. In 1781, British forces landed in Virginia Beach and began to advance toward Williamsburg, a major colonial city at the time. However, a party of American troops met the British, and a battle ensued at the nearby Cape Henry. The lighthouse served as a beacon for the American forces, allowing them to navigate the waters and ultimately defeat the British.

Restoration and Preservation

Over the years, the Cape Henry Lighthouse fell into disrepair and was eventually decommissioned in 1881. However, in the early 20th century, efforts were made to restore and preserve the lighthouse. In 1930, the structure was officially transferred to the Association for the Preservation of VA (now known as Preservation Virginia), and it was opened to the public as a museum.

Visiting Cape Henry Lighthouse

Location and Hours of Operation

The Cape Henry Lighthouse is located within Fort Story's military base and has access to the public. Visitors can enter the floor with a valid ID, and the lighthouse is open for tours from April through October. Tours are offered daily from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and tickets can be purchased at the site.

Tour Experience

During a tour of the Cape Henry Lighthouse, visitors can climb the 191 stairs to the top of the tower, where they will be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding area. The museum also offers exhibits on the history of the lighthouse and the surrounding area.

Other Nearby Attractions

In addition to the Cape Henry Lighthouse, the Fort Story military base is home to several other historical landmarks and tourist attractions. These include the Military Aviation Museum, the First Landing State Park, and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.


The Cape Henry Lighthouse is an essential piece of American history and a popular tourist destination in Virginia Beach. With its unique architecture, rich history, and stunning views, it is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in the past and culture of the United States.

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