Coast Guard Virginia Beach

Posted by junketseo in Virginia Beach Ghost Tours
Coast Guard Virginia Beach - Photo

As a tourist walking along 24th St. and the Virginia Beach boardwalk, you may notice a building that appears to be strangely out of place. Sitting between two giant hotels that reach into the blue sky is a tiny little house that is oddly anachronous, adrift in the sprawl of skyscrapers and shops that sell souvenirs to vacationing visitors.

Virginia has a fantastic assortment of distinctive museums offering a unique insight into the state’s residents, history, and culture. Perhaps one of the most fascinating and underrated of them all is the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum.

This building, located on Atlantic Avenue, once operated as the Old Coast Guard Station. Today, visitors can learn about the beach’s history and the area’s maritime heritage. And they may just meet a ghost or two.

To see this haunted location in person, book a Virginia Beach ghost tour with Neptune Ghosts!


Inside the Museum


Built in 1903, the building now houses the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum, which has an impressive history. Initially, this structure served as a U.S. Coast Guard Life Saving Station with a lookout tower to keep an eye on the unpredictable Atlantic that crashes near the museum’s backdoor.

Now often called by locals as the Old Coast Guard Station, the building is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Virginia Beach landmark. It is a tribute and poignant memorial to Virginia’s coastal communities and the shipwrecks of bygone eras. Preserving all this history has also preserved some ghosts.

Many ghosts that haunt the Old Coast Guard station may be attached to the incredible amount of artifacts on display. The museum holds over 1800 artifacts and over a thousand photos documenting many of the events connected with this place when it was actively saving lives from the unforgiving ocean.

Three different full-bodied apparitions appear to haunt this museum, as do a myriad of residual hauntings attached to the artifacts. These are witnessed in the three sections that divide the museum.


Old Coast Guard Station Lower Gallery


The Lower Gallery exhibits all of the life-saving equipment employed by the rescue teams and illustrates how each piece was used. Remember that saving a life often meant the genuine possibility of losing your own, and the ghost that haunts this lower section may be the spirit of a person who died during his job.

Although unnamed, he is a pleasant soul, often seen by staff after the museum closes. He is dressed in a suit and sports a white beard. In one encounter, a museum volunteer was closing up for the evening. As she made her way through the gallery, she was startled to see many standing in the shadows.

She politely informed the gentleman that the museum was closed, and the spirit smiled, tipped his cap, and disappeared into the wall. His spirit is intrinsically linked to the very fabric of the museum itself.


Upper Gallery


The Upper Gallery contains images and articles that tell the story of the shipwrecks that occurred in the past. This gallery also tells the story of the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II. This may be why the ghost of a Navy seaman has been witnessed materializing in this room, a reminder of the legacy this station played in the battle for our independence.

This upper gallery is also the setting for ghostly voices, disembodied sobbing, and cries of distress. You see, the ocean at Virginia Beach is notoriously treacherous, given that it is situated at the confluence of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, and many ships have floundered and sank in the shadow of the museum.

Not all rescue missions were successful, and many attempts at saving lives regrettably turned into the recovery of bodies drowned in the ocean’s swell. These bodies would have been taken her to the upper floor to await identification. It is believed that some of these lost souls still linger here, unable to believe they are dead, endlessly staring at the sea that took their lives.


The Lookout 


The ghost that haunts the lookout is known by name. He is the soul of John Woodhouse Sparrow, a veteran of the life-saving team that occupied this building. He worked here for 35 years until his retirement in 1917.

He is a fixture in the community of Virginia Beach and is seen so often the police are called to investigate the figure of the man seen in the windows at night. Even in death, Sparrow still mans the lookout, searching with keen eyes for any sign of distress in the vastness of the roiling sea that swells before him.


Haunted Virginia Beach


Since 1903, the Old Coast Guard Station has stood as a symbol of remembering maritime history and is an icon of Virginia’s maritime history. Very few destinations offer such historical documentation and exhibits, along with the breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean from the Virginia Beach Boardwalk.

The fact that the museum is haunted adds to its appeal.

Want to learn about who and what haunts Virginia Beach? Book a ghost tour with Neptune Ghosts!