In the early 19th-century,
the US Army post named Fortress Monroe
was constructed at Old Point Comfort,
where the James River and Elizabeth River meet the Chesapeake Bay.
The Fort has a long and fascinating history, which can be read here:
There is an excellent aerial photo of the Fort on the wikipedia site
that shows how Fort Monroe is uniquely situated.
It is a former Army base surrounded by water,
and within its boundaries,
a nearly 200-year-old stone fortress named for President James Monroe
is surrounded by a moat.
Here's the moat and wall of the Fort, looking north from the West Gate:
Over the years, I have had occasion to be on a number of military bases,
and, to my mind, their functionalism is painfully dreary.
The architecture and landscaping is spare and prosaic.
But Fort Monroe is extraordinarily picturesque.
Many buildings have cardinal red metal roofs.
There are sturdy homes constructed of tidy red brick
to withstand strong hurricane-force winds,
and each one is dressed with an elegant white porch, sometimes two,
that invites summer breezes from the Bay.
Here is my favorite row of houses on Ingalls Road
near the intersection of Ruckman Road:
And this, on the main road into the Fort:
The following photo provides a view of Ruckman Road,
which bisects the old Fort.
Ruckman Road was named in honor of my great-great uncle,
General John Wilson Ruckman,
who was the brother of my maternal great grandmother Mary Jane,
called "Jenny" by her family.
Here's a brief biography of General Ruckman:
The veranda on this next house, visible from Bernard Road,
overlooks a boxwood hedge and small stand of live oaks:
Fort Monroe is also home to a number of historic buildings
which hosted some of the most important figures of American history.
Some of these I will discuss in tomorrow's blog.