Virginia Beach isn’t just famous for its beautiful beaches, shopping and sightseeing activities. With a rich history of coastal activity, Virginia Beach is also host to some of the areas most fascinating museums.
One of the most well kept and well established is the Old Coast Guard Station. Preserving and maintaining the heritage of the maritime heritage of Virginia Beach the Old Coast Guard Station is housed within the 1903 Life-Saving Station, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on Virginia Beach.
Covering this history of the Virginia Beach Community from the days when settlers first arrived and telling the stories of Virginia’s oceanfront and its heritage related to the sea, the museum is a wealth of visual and aural history.
Recounting tales of the live saving stations and the people who responded to ships in distress plus remnants of World War 2, this museum is a must for history buffs and sea lovers.
Despite its small size the museum is filled to the brim with fascinating items of history. At the Coast Guard Station you’ll find over 1800 artifacts and over 1000 photos of the maritime community and its life-saving services that involved physical searches without the tools and techniques such as satellites we use nowadays.
Books, papers and gallery items can be perused freely but one of the best ways to really find out more about the times gone by is with a tour. Tours for both individuals and groups can be arranged any day of the week with no reservations and a knowledgeable guide can bring to live the rich nautical history of the era.
Special exhibitions throughout the year pay tribute to those who have been a part of the community throughout the ages. Examples of past exhibitions and events include African-Americans in the coast guard, a memorial to the surfmen who lost their lives in 1887, and regular spyglass speaker series.
An evening walking program called Shipwrecks and Ghost Lore is a regular event at the Old Coast Guard Station. Costing $12 is a 60-90 minute tour which takes visitors through the tales and legends of shipwrecks, ghosts, pirates and witches.
Events celebrating the mascots that have lived at sea to work fighting infestations or searching for food or just to act as companions to those out at sea on long voyages have also been popular ways to show what life was like for the people and animals of the ocean.
For younger children there are story time events, which include story book readings and activities. A fun way to keep children entertained while being educated about local history, it’s a popular event that takes place all throughout summer.
The museum is involved in research projects to identify the remnants left by 19th century shipwrecks which still show up on Virginia Beach, particularly after a storm. Beach walkers often find interesting remains and let researchers know so keep a look out for any artifacts if you’re visiting the beach. Recently the hull of a cargo shooner from the 19th century was found nearby.
Located at 24th Street, the museum is open from 10am till 5pm every Monday through to Saturday and 12pm to 5pm on Sundays. It is closed on public holidays. Admission is free to members and children under six, costs $4 for adults, $3 for seniors and $2 for children under 15. Parties should make appointments to visit and all minors must have an adult with them.