Fort Norfolk was authorized in 1794 by President George Washington.
The fort's four-acre site overlooks the Elizabeth River and includes earthwork embankments, ramparts, a dungeon, officers' quarters, powder magazine, barracks, and guardhouse. Most structures in the fort date to 1810.
The fort helped protect Norfolk during the War of 1812. In the Civil War, Confederate forces seized the fort and used the fort to defend Norfolk and Portsmouth. It's magazine was used to supply the CSS Virginia (Merrimack) during its battle with the USS Monitor. In 1862 the fort was recaptured by the Union Army and used as a prison. Later it was an ordnance depot for the Navy. In 1923 the fort was occupied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which still owns Fort Norfolk.
The fort is located in the Ghent section of Norfolk at 801 Front Street. Admission is free and self-guided tours are available during the week. Visitors must sign in at the guard station and show a government issued ID such as a drivers license.
Guided tours of the fort are provided by the Norfolk Historical Society on Sunday afternoons from Noon to 4 PM from June 19 to September 25. The guided tour includes two buildings and a visitor film.