On Feb. 11, the Virginia Beach City Council accepted a $160,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for restoration and improvements to the Cape Henry Lighthouse. The funding is provided through the federal Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) initiative that is part of the new Transportation Alternatives Program. The City Council also amended an agreement with Preservation Virginia to pay the $40,000 required match for the grant. Preservation Virginia owns and operates the Cape Henry Lighthouse, which is located at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story.
This is the third “transportation enhancement” grant that Virginia Beach has accepted for restoration and improvements of the Cape Henry Lighthouse. An original $160,000 grant award funded Phase 1 improvements to public access to the lantern deck of the lighthouse, which was completed in 2002. A second grant award of $195,000 was received in 2011for the second phase of restoration and improvements to the lighthouse base area. The third grant was needed to fully fund Phase 2. The agreement with Preservation Virginia obligates that organization to fund the 20 percent required match, which will be $128,750 of the $644,000 total project cost.
Archaeological work at the site has been completed by James River Institute for Archaeology and a photographic survey of the exterior of the structure has been completed by Manassas Consulting. Preliminary engineering for Phase 2 is in process by the primary architectural and engineering contractor, Clark Nexsen, and its subcontractor, Carlton Abbott and Partners, P.C. Work to be completed during the second phase includes: stabilization of the lighthouse’s Aquia sandstone base, increasing the height of the dune, installation of retaining walls and slabs to hold the dune, pavers and granite veneers to enhance the slabs and walls for visitor comfort, replacement of the lighthouse access steps, improved interpretive signage and general landscape improvements. Construction is projected to begin by fall 2014.
The Cape Henry Lighthouse is a National Historic Landmark and is considered to have been the first funded public works project under George Washington and the new United States government. Construction of the lighthouse was completed in 1792. A second light tower was constructed at Cape Henry in 1881 due to concerns over cracks in the original structure. Ownership of the old lighthouse was transferred to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, now doing business as Preservation Virginia, in 1930. The lighthouse is open to the public seven days a week, year-round, except certain holidays. A nominal fee is charged.
Preservation Virginia is a private nonprofit statewide organization that is dedicated to perpetuating and revitalizing Virginia's cultural, architectural and historic heritage. Founded in 1889, Preservation Virginia provides leadership, experience, influence and services to the public and special audiences by saving, managing and protecting historic places, and developing preservation policy, programs and strategies with individuals, organizations and local, state and national partners. The organization’s headquarters are located in Richmond.
The Transportation Alternatives Program was created by federal legislation and is funded through the Federal Highway Administration. It is the successor of the federal Transportation Enhancement program that was originally created in 1991. Funds from this program are administered through VDOT to local governments, which manage the projects.
For additional information about the Cape Henry Lighthouse restoration and improvements project, contact Mark Reed at (757) 385-5104.
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