A Waterfront Community for Over 400 Years
The roots of Phoebus began in 1609 as a community of English colonists who worked the fertile land captured from the Kecoughtan, a native Algonquin tribe. By the 1680s when the town of Hampton was established across the river, this agricultural waterfront community was widely known as Mill Creek. For the next 200 years this unprotected village would endure raids by the Dutch, the British, and even pirates, necessitating the construction of a nearby fortress that would become Fort Monroe in 1819. When the community was commandeered by Union forces as Camp Hamilton in 1861, it became not only a tent-city of thousands of troops, but also served as the home to makeshift communities of escaped African-American slaves dubbed "slabtowns". After the Civil War, the footprints left by this swell of displaced peoples became known as Chesapeake City in 1871.
It was in this pioneering time that hotelier Harrison Phoebus left his mark on the community. He offered steady employment to Chesapeake City residents at his famous Hygeia Hotel during the difficult years of post-war Reconstruction and built it into a juggernaut of recreation and leisure on the East Coast. He became known for putting his employees in a position to succeed. After his untimely death at age 45, the townspeople honored Harrison's entrepreneurial spirit by incorporating the town as "Phoebus" in 1900. Through the years, the entreprenuer's mantra of togetherness has served as a bedrock for this unique community. Today, Phoebus remains a small-town, family-oriented community with the passion to think big.
To read more about the oldest continuously-settled English-speaking community in North America (no kidding!) take a moment to visit Phoebus' wonderful community-led and non-profit sites:
- Greater Phoebus Historical Society - Get involved with our community-led historical preservation society and meet neighbors who share your passion for local history!
- PhoebusVA.com - Official website courtesy of the Partnership for a New Phoebus
- PhoebusMemories.org - Community-driven initiative to preserve and share the vibrant history of the town and nearby Fort Monroe