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Old Coast Guard Station

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1903, George R. Tolman. 1933, renovation and expansion. 1979, reorientation. 1980–1981, restoration, Melvin M. Spence and Associates. 24th St. and the Oceanfront. Open to the public
  • Old Coast Guard Station (Richard Guy Wilson)
  • Old Coast Guard Station (Virginia Division of Historic Resources)

Following the Civil War an increase in shipping accidents along the nation's coastal and inland waterways prompted the federal government to establish the U.S. Lifesaving Service. Of the many stations erected along the Virginia coast, this building, formerly known as the Seatack Lifesaving Station, is one of the few that survives. “Seatack” is a slang contraction used locally to refer to the British “sea attack” during the War of 1812. Architect George L. Tolman developed the prototype design for the station—dubbed “the Quonochontaug” after a Rhode Island beach—in 1891, and it was used for more than twenty stations erected for the Lifesaving Service around the country. The Shingle Style building once contained offices and storage for rescue boats on the ground level and dormitory space on the upper level, beneath the gently sloping roof with dormer windows. A four-story lookout tower, added in 1933, forms the focal point of the asymmetrical main facade. Prior to the station's refurbishment as a museum in 1981, it was moved about 100 feet and reoriented 90 degrees to allow construction of an adjacent hotel.

Writing Credits

Richard Guy Wilson et al.


What's Nearby


Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Old Coast Guard Station", [Virginia Beach, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 457-458.

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