The Virginia Beach Historic Preservation Commission will hold its fifth annual public input meeting on April 3 at 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library. The purpose of this meeting is to provide the general public an update on the commission’s activities and general preservation concerns in the city. The meeting will also give citizens in attendance an opportunity to share their concerns with the commission.
The primary theme of the meeting is the Past, Present and Future of the Cape Henry Historic Site, which is arguably the most significant historical location in Virginia Beach. Bob Albertson of the Order of Cape Henry 1607 will give a brief historical overview of this important site. That will be followed by a panel discussion that will include representatives from Fort Story Joint Expeditionary Base, Preservation Virginia, the United States Coast Guard, and the City of Virginia Beach. The National Park Service has also been invited to participate. Local historian Fielding Lewis Tyler will be on hand to sign and sell his book, “Fort Story and Cape Henry.”
The Historic Preservation Commission will also announce the revitalization of the Virginia Beach Historical Register program. This program is an important gateway for historic homeowners to the available tax incentives for rehabilitation that the city offers.
The agenda for this meeting, as well as a listing of the current historical preservation items under consideration by the Virginia Beach Historic Preservation Commission, are available at www.vbgov.com/historicpreservation.
On April 26, 1607, approximately 100 colonists landed on the bay side of Cape Henry after an arduous voyage from England. During the next four days they proceeded to hold the first trial by jury and conduct the first election recorded in North America. Prior to leaving the coast to establish a permanent inland settlement, they planted a cross at Cape Henry as a navigational marker and notice to all that this land was claimed by England.
Another major historical event occurred directly off the shores of Cape Henry in 1781 when the French fleet under Admiral Comte deGrasse defeated a convoy of British ships sent to resupply General Cornwallis at Yorktown in what later became known as the Battle off the Capes. The outcome of the decisive battle at Yorktown, and perhaps the Revolution, could have been very different without this important naval engagement.
A National Historic Landmark that remains intact is the first Cape Henry lighthouse, built in 1791 as our country’s first public works project. Today, the Cape Henry Lighthouse is one of the oldest lighthouses in America that is accessible to the general public. Some other relics still standing are the second lighthouse that was built of steel in 1881, a railway depot built by Norfolk Southern in 1907 and World War II era army buildings, as well as a Nike missile site.
The Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library is located at 4100 Virginia Beach Boulevard. The Virginia Beach Historic Preservation Commission is a City Council-appointed body that advises Council on historic issues in the city. The commission generally meets the first Wednesday evening of the month in various locations. Please visit www.vbgov.com/historicpreservation for additional information about the Historic Preservation Commission. Please call 757-385-5104 for additional information about the April 3 public meeting.