The building of the Cape Henry Lighthouse, authorized by George Washington and overseen by Alexander Hamilton, was one of the first acts of the Federal Government. The lighthouse has an octagonal sandstone construction designed by New York architect John McComb. The sandstone came from the same source of that used to build the White House.
The lighthouse was damaged by Confederate forces during the American Civil War and later damaged by hurricane Barbara in 1953. In both instances it was restored soon after. Acquired in 1930 by Preservation Virginia a brick lining and iron stairway were added to the lighthouse interior.
Today visitors can climb to the top of the Cape Henry Lighthouse to enjoy a view of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. A guided tour of the area is also available along with shopping in the museum store.