The reopening comes after substantial completion of a seven-month dune restoration project
VIRGINIA BEACH – Preservation Virginia, owner and operator of the Cape Henry Lighthouse, has reopened the tower to the public for climbing. The tower was closed due to the dune restoration project that started in September 2018 to stabilize the top of the dune and the sandstone base of the lighthouse. The work, which has been substantially completed, will help protect the lighthouse from the eroding effects of wind and rain, and significantly improve the pedestrian area surrounding the lighthouse.
Preservation Virginia is celebrating the reopening of the tower and completion of the dune restoration project with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting on May 4 at 11 a.m., featuring officials from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek Fort Story and the City of Virginia Beach. The event is free and open to the public.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony will be followed by climbs up the tower, interactive Dune Talks led by historic interpreters on STEM-related topics, including geology and marine life, walking tours of the Cape Henry area, a bounce house and a Lego lighthouse competition hosted by the Hampton Roads LEGO User Group.
The $1.1 million dune restoration project was jointly funded by $845,000 in federal grants, with additional financing from Preservation Virginia, a private, nonprofit, historic preservation organization based in Richmond, Virginia, and the City of Virginia Beach. The project has been managed by the Virginia Beach Public Works Department and the architecture, engineering and design firm of Clark Nexsen. Conquest USA, Inc. was awarded the construction contract.
The project entailed increasing the height of the top of the dune to cover the soft Aquia sandstone base as it originally did when the lighthouse was constructed. The dune was also capped in place with a concrete slab to prevent the natural erosion that occurs from the constant exposure to ocean winds and strong storms. Brick pavers have been laid to provide a finished surface to the pedestrian plaza, which is now surrounded by a metal observation railing. Visitors will be able to enjoy new interpretive signs and a seat wall that has been installed for visitors to rest before and after climbing. Lastly, new steps have been built to access the tower.
“Cape Henry Lighthouse’s importance to this nation’s history and future is reflected in the collaborative efforts that went into this preservation effort,” said Jennifer Hurst-Wender, director of museum operations and education for Preservation Virginia. “We are thrilled that visitors to Virginia Beach will have the opportunity to climb the tower, just in time for the summer season.”
About Preservation Virginia
Preservation Virginia is a private, nonprofit organization and statewide historic preservation leader founded in 1889 that is dedicated to preserving, promoting and serving as an advocate for Virginia’s cultural and architectural history.
804-648-1889, ext. 304