Old Coast Guard Station

Spyglass Speaker Series ~ Bill Geroux ~ The Mathews Men ~ May 23

Research Archives

Shipwreck Identification Project

Pieces of 19th century shipwrecks continue to be found on the shores in Virginia Beach today. Here at the Old Coast Guard Station we continue to discover and tag shipwreck timbers on our shores. This piece was uncovered by a recent storm a little south of Cape Henry.

We've received calls from interested beach walkers, which we appreciate. Images of these remains have been sent to our resident underwater archaeological expert for his input as to the approximate date and type of vessel. Although not a diagnostic piece, it is highly probable that it is a portion of the hull of a cargo schooner from the second half of the 19th century.

This section of Cape Henry was the site of a large number of shipwrecks during that period. The Old Coast Guard Station has documented some fourteen shipwreck sites at Fort Story and Cape Henry since the project was initiated in the summer of 1992.


Photographic Image Archives

The Old Coast Guard Station holds approximately 1800 photographic images in the museum archives. The museum's extensive collection of originals and copies of photographic prints covers Princess Anne County / Virginia Beach history, United States Life-Saving / Coast Guard history, personnel and stations in Virginia, sailing vessels and shipwrecks on the Virginia coast. These images are available to researchers by appointment during museum business hours. The scanned images will be available for viewing on the museum's web site in the future.


Research Library

The Old Coast Guard Station holds approximately 650 volumes in the museum library. These volumes encompass nautical and maritime history, United States Life-Saving Service, United States Coast Guard and Princess Anne County / Virginia Beach history, and shipwrecks along the Virginia coast. Thanks to a generous partnership with the Virginia Beach Public Library and the Lyrasis Mass Digitization Project, some books from the museum research library are now available in digital format via the internet.

  • The library is open to researchers by appointment during museum business hours. Call 757-422-1587 or email.

  • Click HERE to view books from the museum research library available on-line in digital format.


Local Life-Saving/Coast Guard History

The museum has and continues to compile individual stories of the men and their families who served at the Life-Saving / Coast Guard Stations along the coast of Virginia Beach. We welcome your inquiries or stories concerning the surfmen and their families who served.

The museum has also compiled short histories of the following stations in Virginia and North Carolina: Smith Island, Cobbs Island, Cape Henry, Virginia Beach, Dam Neck Mills, Little Island, False Cape, and Wash Woods. Contact us with your inquiries or information.


Oral and Video Histories

The Old Coast Guard Station Oral History Program collects, preserves, and makes accessible both oral and video histories documenting personal experiences related to Virginia Beach Oceanfront history and Life-Saving Service/Coast Guard involvement. For more information, please call 757-422-1587 or email.

      Surfing in Virginia Beach

  • Ever since 1912 when James "Big Jim" M. Jordan, Jr. first rode a surfboard in Virginia Beach, surfing has been synonymous with the oceanfront city. Whether a past time or way of life, surfing is a part of the culture and history of Virginia Beach. The local waves are popular with amateurs and have produced numerous professional surfers over the decades. Virginia Beach is even home to the world's second oldest surfing competitions, the East Coast Surfing Championships.
  •     "Hangin' 10 at Virginia Beach" is a 14-minute documentary film produced by The Old Coast Guard Station Museum, which traces the evolution and cultural impact of surfing in Virginia Beach.
  •      Video-Oral History Archives includes interviews capturing the vivid personalities and personal stories of Virginia Beach residents who have a passion for surfing. Interviews are available for viewing at the museum upon appointment. Call 757-422-1887 or email to schedule.

    •      Bill Frierson
    •      Bob Holland
    •      William "Butch" Kitchin
    •      Ellis Hinnant-Will
    •      Pete Smith
    •      Shep Jordan
    •      Wes Laine
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