City Gets First Look at Proposed Lights for Colonial Williamsburg Buildings

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LED linear light strips bathe the Governor's Palace in light. (Ian Brickey/WYDaily)
LED linear light strips bathe the Governor’s Palace in light. (Ian Brickey/WYDaily)

Leaders with the City of Williamsburg first view of an illuminated Colonial Williamsburg was met with positive reviews.

Members of the city’s Architectural Review Board visited the Governor’s Palace on Thursday for their first glimpse of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s proposal to illuminate eight buildings — a plan the foundation says will draw more people to the Historic Area at night.

ARB members observed the lighted building for about an hour as the sun set to view its appearance from dusk to twilight. Members were generally pleased with the building’s illuminated appearance, calling the visit “helpful.”

“I feel a lot more comfortable with it after having seen it,” said Demetrios Florakis, who represents the Planning Commission on the ARB.

Colonial Williamsburg’s plan calls for the installation of lights over the summer at the Governor’s Palace, the Courthouse, the Capitol, the Magazine, the Public hospital, the George Wythe House, the St. George Tucker House and the Peyton Randolph House.

For the demonstration Thursday night, Colonial Williamsburg set up two kinds of lights it was considering for the project: round bulbs in 12-inch “round can” fixtures and linear LED strip lighting.

Colonial Williamsburg interim Vice President of Operations Robert Underwood said the bulbs were brighter, but the LED strips could be adjusted to produce a warmer lighting effect.

Underwood said Colonial Williamsburg had examined the effects of both lights on the building and preferred the LED lights — a preference echoed by the ARB.

Under the proposal submitted to the ARB, the lights would come on at dusk and remain on until 11:30 p.m. or midnight, when other businesses in and around the Historic Area begin to close.

The lights would also have individual switches, allowing them to be turned on and off as specific programming requires.

The ARB considered the plan at its March 24 meeting, but delayed action on it until it could see a mockup of the lights. The board is scheduled to take the issue up at its April 28 meeting.

Only the ARB’s approval is required to pass the plan. If the ARB does not approve the request, Colonial Williamsburg may appeal to the City Council for reconsideration.

Correction 4/21/2015: This story has been updated to reflect Robert Underwood’s current position with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

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