John V. Quarstein, author, historian and preservationist
The construction of Fort Monroe at the entrance to the harbor of Hampton Roads prompted the creation of the Hygeia Hotel in 1823. This hotel, named for the Greek goddess of health, became the grandest resort hotel in the South. Demolished in December 1862, it was rebuilt during the post-Civil War era. The Hygeia Hotel was made famous by its owner Harrison Phoebus. Old Point Comfort became such a popular destination thanks to its cooling breezes and its outstanding hospitality. The C & O Railroad and nine different steamship lines brought tens of thousands of visitors each year. Additional hotels, The Chamberlin; The Sherwood Inn; Evans Cottage; and The Kimberly provided over 2,400 hotel rooms. By 1900, Old Point Comfort was the leading resort in America. Historian John Quarstein explores the famed resort and its unique place in Virginia history.
John V. Quarstein is an award-winning author, historian and preservationist. After serving 30 years as director of the Virginia War Museum, he is presently the director of the USS Monitor Center at The Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia. Quarstein is the author of 15 books and six PBS documentaries. His books include the Big Bethel: The First Battle (2011) and the Henry Adams prize winning The Monitor Boys: The Crew of the Union’s First Ironclad (2010). He resides at Old Point Comfort in Hampton, Virginia and on his family’s farm near Chestertown, Maryland.