Old Coast Guard Station
Walking along 24th and Boardwalk, you may notice something that appears to be oddly out of place. Sitting between two giant hotels that stretch into the sky is a tiny little outdated looking house.
The first time I saw it was on a field trip, during those awkward Jr. High days. The good memories made an impression and I brought my son there recently to pass on the experience. "The old house" is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as being a Virginia landmark, preserving the history of both the United States Life-Saving and later the Coast Guard Services. I am talking about the Old Coast Guard Station, a tribute and memory to Virginia's coastal communities and the shipwrecks of bygone eras.
Most visitors do not realize the museum itself is the largest
exhibit serving as the 1903 Life-Saving Station. Inside, there are over a 1000 photographs and well over 1800 historical artifacts. For those with unanswered questions, there is an on-site library with a collection of books, oral histories and documents to further your understanding of this unique history perspective. The museum has two galleries, the boat room on the lower displays the 1903 Life-Saving/Coast Guard Station with actual exhibits showing rescue equipment and their functions. The upper gallery encompasses tales from Virginian shipwrecks and the exciting adventures of The Battle for the Atlantic during World War II.
The newest feature added to the Old Coast Guard Station is the tower cam. The tower cam allows visitors to exam the beach and the ocean just as a "surfman" on watch in the tower. "Surfmen were those that lived on the second story who protected and guarded the coast. The interactive tower cam has a touch screen computer system, a monitor that is connected via video camera and is a favorite addition to all ages. However, currently the tower cam is fixed on one image and needs to be replaced. We ask all our patrons to dig deep and help contribute any money to getting the tower cam fixed. The tour guide assured me that they were close to their goal and should be up and running soon.
Whether it is summer or winter there are always family friendly activities that you can participate in. For children between the ages of 3 and 9 there is the always popular Story Time with Captain Fishbones. The cost of the program is included in the general admission cost and held on selected Wednesdays from September to May and every Wednesday June thru August. If you decide to add this as a unique stop on your summer vacation for your family make sure you call to confirm
times and even better you can make reservations ahead of time.
One fall activity you definitely want to mark on your calendar is the Annual Pig and Oyster Roast and Fish Fry. This year it will be held on October 3 at the 24th Street Park from 4 to 8 pm. This is the best beach party of the year and you don't want to miss it. For more information you can call 757-422-1587.
Since 1903 the Old Coast Guard Station has stood as a symbol of remembering maritime history and Is a substantial and irreplaceable piece of Virginia history. There are very few destinations that offer such historical documentation and exhibits along with the breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean from the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. It is a place that is well worth the visit no matter where you are from.
For more information: The Old Coast Guard Station can be reached at 24th Street & Boardwalk, Virginia Beach, VA 23451.