The following is a brief chronology of the Hotels at Fort Monroe. If you have answers to any of the questions below, please send them to us.
1st Hotel - Hygeia (1) - there were two so we'll differentiate with the (1). This was truely a grand hotel and resort. Opened: 1822 Demolished: 1862 (to use the property for wartime requirements) Location:Since this article was first published, a lithograph of Hygeia (1) created in 1861 has been located (shown below). The picture is an illustration and some details of Fort Monroe were presented "with artistic freedom" rather than total accuracy but it appears that the first Hygeia Hotel was indeed on or very near the site of the current Chamberlin Hotel. Distinguished guests: Henry Clay, President Andrew Jackson, President John Tyler, Edgar Allan Poe who recited "The Raven" and "Annabel Lee" on the porch one Septemer night in 1849, a month before he died.
2nd Hotel - Sherwood Inn Opened: ~ 1843 Became a boarding house after the Civil War (for 20 years) Closed: 1932 - Sold to the federal government for use as an officer's mess and quarters. Location: On a lot not far from the current Chamberlin. 3rd Hotel - Hygeia (2) Built by Henry Clark Opened: ~ 1870 Closed: ~ 1902 Location:The Second Hygeia was located to the right (looking from the water) of the Chamberlin. Pictures are availabe that show both hotels (in the same photograph) and in fact, there are advertisements that pitch both hotels together. 4th Hotel - Chamberlin (1) - built by John Chamberlin, a restauranteur and gaming magnate. Evidently, the Vanderbilts also had an interest as the hotel was known for a few years as the Vanderbilt Chamberlin. John Chamberlin died shortly after it opened reportedly with only $85 to his name. The hotel had an on-site ice plant (was it used for early Air Conditioning?), laundry, billiard rooms, a bowling alley, an electrical plant and railroad and telegraph offices (what, no internet connections?). My relatives would come to the area to visit with our family when I was young and would stay at the Chamberlin (2). They would talk about the Chamberlin (1) with much adoration. You can see by the photos below that this hotel exceeds expectations of even the best modern day hotels and resorts. Location: Same lot as the present day Chamberlin. Opened: ~ 1896 Burned: March 7,1920 Architecture: Queen Anne by the same architects that built the Library of Congress.
5th Hotel - Chamberlin (2) - financed by local businessmen headed by James Darling of Hampton (no doubt the same Darling for which Darling Statium was named). The Hotel changed hands multiple times. One factor that pushed it over the edge was the impact of 9/11. Fort Monroe tighten security and business fell 70%. I suspect the another factor was the age of the hotel and the cost of renovating. The Chamberlin, in it's hayday, was surely a grand hotel and even now has features that would be too costly to duplicate today. Question: Was any of the Chamberlin (1) salvaged for use in the Chamberlin (2)...perhaps the pool? Opened: 1929 Closed: 2003 Now a Senior Independent Living facility. The dining room is still open to the public. Architecture: Victorian
Pictures courtesy of Dr. Harold Cones and David Spriggs.
Daily Press print of a Lithograph of the first Hygeia Hotel dated 1861
Second Hygeia Hotel
First Chamberlin - View from Water
First Chamberlin - Road View
First Chamberlin - Red Parlor
First Chamberlin - Pool
First Chamberlin - Blue Parlor
First Chamberlin - Ball Room, Dining Room, Sun Parlor