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April 13, 2015 By Gregory Connolly

These renderings from Colonial Williamsburg show what the lighting will look like on the Capitol. The top picture shows the lowest possible lighting range, while the bottom is the brightest. The plan is to keep the lights more toward the low range. (Courtesy Colonial Williamsburg)

These renderings from Colonial Williamsburg show what the lighting will look like on the Capitol. The top picture shows the lowest possible lighting range, while the bottom is the brightest. The plan is to keep the lights similar to the low range. (Courtesy Colonial Williamsburg)

Starting later this year, eight key buildings in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area will be bathed in soft light from dusk until around midnight if the City of Williamsburg gives its blessing.

The living history museum wants to install the lights sometime this summer on the following buildings: 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.

Colonial Williamsburg Director of Facilities Maintenance Robert Underwood said the light reflected off the sides of the building will resemble the fire effect seen on the poles along Duke of Gloucester Street.

“If you can imagine the light that comes off of that fire that would give a glow on to the building, that is more or less the tone we’re looking for,” he said. “It’s constant. We didn’t want to turn this into a commercial look. We want it to be more natural in nature. We want to be respectful of the architecture and the colonial atmosphere that we create here, and we thought that would be the proper color range.”

The lights on each building will come from fixtures mostly installed in the ground and angled up at the building. Almost all of them will be recessed or hidden in shrubs, so they should not affect the appearance of the buildings other than by the light they cast.

Underwood said the primary reason for seeking the lights is to draw more people into the Historic Area at night.

“Currently the historic area has the appearance of being completely closed, which it generally is not,” he said. “There are tours that go on in the evening. We have stores that are open. We want to bring some life to the area by having an attraction, and we feel that with the beautiful architecture that we have, we’ll draw people into the Historic Area.”

The lights will stay on until 11:30 p.m. or midnight, when other businesses in and around the Historic Area like Merchants Square and Chowning’s Tavern — which was recently rebranded into an alehouse — begin to close.

Underwood said he walked through the Historic Area late last year with Colonial Williamsburg President and CEO Mitchell Reiss and a few other ranking staff members to determine which buildings would be suitable for lighting. Reiss first announced his intention to try to get lighting installed on buildings in the Historic Area during a roundtable discussion with reporters in December.

Colonial Williamsburg filed an application to install the lighting with the Williamsburg Architectural Review Board, a group that considers applications to change the appearance of historically sensitive assets in the city. The ARB considered the application at its March 24 meeting and has requested that Colonial Williamsburg install the lights on one building so it can see what they will look like.

After that, Colonial Williamsburg will have to go before the ARB again for formal approval. If the ARB denies the application, Colonial Williamsburg can appeal to Williamsburg City Council to try to get the lights installed.
Capitol001.jpg

Source: http://wydaily.com/2015/04/13/colonial-williamsburg-requests-citys-permission-to-illuminate-eight-historic-area-buildings?cat=localnews/
 

MAZ

Jan 30, 2014
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RE: Williamsburg Requests City’s Permission to Illuminate Eight Historic Area Buildings

Because nothing says 'historically correct' like flood lighting.
 
Apr 1, 2010
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RE: Williamsburg Requests City’s Permission to Illuminate Eight Historic Area Buildings

The new president seems to want CW to become a spa and lodge destination and damned to those that like the charm that makes CW what it is. This will not end well for the latter folks.

Historical correctness has been on the outs since he started making changes. We use to look to CW as the gold standard in accuracy. Now, we only shake our heads when we see the numerous inappropriate items found there. God bless commercialism.
 
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Thomas

Never Sane to Begin With
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RE: Williamsburg Requests City’s Permission to Illuminate Eight Historic Area Buildings

I have no problem with a bit of subtle lighting like they showed.... It's not like they are stringng up rainbow LEDs and littering the area with styrofoam animals.
 
Sep 24, 2013
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RE: Williamsburg Requests City’s Permission to Illuminate Eight Historic Area Buildings

BGW Family said:
The new president seems to want CW to become a spa and lodge destination and damned to those that like the charm that makes CW what it is. This will not end well for the latter folks.

Historical correctness has been on the outs since he started making changes. We use to look to CW as the gold standard in accuracy. Now, we only shake our heads when we see the numerous inappropriate items found there. God bless commercialism.

It is my understanding that the opposite is actually occurring at CW. The past 10 years or so, the focus has been on the spa, dining and lodging but the new president is actually moving away from that and is trying to get people actually INTO the Historic Area, not just the fancy parts. A new map and ticket structure have all been introduced within the past 6 months directed to the average tourist in order to make the experience more accessible (because right now, the experience is confusing as hell due to CW's weird nature). He is also bringing back reenactment events like Prelude to Victory which the previous president disbanded.

Yes there have been introductions like uplighting, but really the Historic Area needs it. I live locally and walk the street at night frequently, it needs lights. Shops are open but it is impossible to tell, also it is absurdly dangerous as I have run into trees and tripped over bricks because I could barely see where I was going (and I know I'm not the only one).

I understand disagreeing with the direction CW is going but I wouldn't put all of the blame on Reiss.
 
Apr 1, 2010
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RE: Williamsburg Requests City’s Permission to Illuminate Eight Historic Area Buildings

As someone that has worked there I will disagree. There are "improvements" in some areas but the historical value is suffering for them. Reiss has spearheaded these changes. You are entitled to your opinion, as am I. We shall see what the future holds.
 
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Applesauce

未来の月
May 22, 2010
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RE: Williamsburg Requests City’s Permission to Illuminate Eight Historic Area Buildings

Nice Global Illumination. I recommend taking it down a few notches on the top though. The white is beginning to wash out.

I think the lighting is nice. And I like adding the lights to it so there's more attraction to visit at night. Because once sunset hits the place dies out, and everything looks closed. (As mentioned in the OP)
 
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Apr 21, 2010
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RE: Williamsburg Requests City’s Permission to Illuminate Eight Historic Area Buildings

I get both sides of this argument, but when you pride yourself on being something that is the closest thing we have to a time machine, having multiple modern amenities installed diminishes your historical value.

CW has to decide whether they are a historical location or an entertainment destination.
 

Nicole

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RE: Williamsburg Requests City’s Permission to Illuminate Eight Historic Area Buildings

So, they had better get rid of all of the electricity? Also the buses.
 
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Zachary

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RE: Williamsburg Requests City’s Permission to Illuminate Eight Historic Area Buildings

James said:
CW has to decide whether they are a historical location or an entertainment destination.

More importantly, Colonial Williamsburg needs to decide which it believes will be successful in an age of decreasing historical tourism. Williamsburg vacations are in decline. What CW had been doing since the anniversary clearly hasn't been working. My hope is that the new leadership can get things back onto a course that brings in guests- whether that means a 100% historically accurate model city, a colonial entertainment-based resort destination, or something else entirely.

I honestly see pros and cons to all of the different options. Ideally would I love to see a wildly successful, purely history-based recreation of the revolutionary city? Of course! Am I confident that such a place would be financially feasible or even remotely successful in 2015? Not even close.

I've long had a nasty reputation as being someone who hates change. In reality, that's not the case at all. I love change. I love to see destinations evolve. I want nothing more than to see places adapt themselves to meet what their customers are looking for. I feel like that is exactly what Colonial Williamsburg is trying to do right now. Could they be wrong about what the bulk of their guests want? Sure. I hope it's not the case, but yes, there is a chance their market research could be leading them in the wrong direction. That said, everything I've seen over the last few months says that Colonial Williamsburg is listening to guests and taking what they have to say very seriously. In my mind, that is what sets the recent CW alterations apart from the changes that have been occurring at Busch Gardens Williamsburg recently.

BGW has shot themselves in the foot with massive alterations out of the blue. In 2007 the park was soaring. Things went south because the park changed. I'm critical of the change that, in my opinion, crippled the park.

CW, until a few months ago, had stayed set in their ways. Under the previous leadership, as far as I can tell, their direction remained pointed in the same direction- even after their guests stopped visiting because CW wasn't what they were looking for. During that period, the market changed. Tourism in the region changed. What guests were looking for in a destination changed. Over the last couple of years, it has become abundantly evident that the old formula had simply stopped working. It is time for Colonial Williamsburg to start experimenting with new ingredients and thinking about changing the way that the old ones are implemented.

In my mind, it comes down to this: Colonial Williamsburg stayed the course till things stopped working. They are now listening to the market and evolving to meet their guests' desires. In contrast, Busch Gardens Williamsburg randomly abandoned their working formula. Since then, the park has implemented a new equation based entirely on management's desires and has opted to ignore their guests and the direction of the market at large.

I see massive, sweeping change at CW as justified and necessary. I see the recent massive, sweeping changes at BGW as reckless and uncalled for.

Even more importantly, there is an air of humility surrounding the change at CW that was (and is) completely absent at BGW. I get the feeling from Colonial Williamsburg that my opinion matters. This is in stark contrast to BGW where opinions are, at best, ignored, and, at worst, ridiculed.

I can stand by a business that changes to meet what its customers want. That's exactly what I see CW doing right now. I'm not entirely comfortable with all the changes- especially the ways in which some are being implemented- but at least for the time being, I'm giving the benefit of the doubt to Colonial Williamsburg. Plus, I get the feeling that if these changes don't end up boosting sales and guest satisfaction, that they will be promptly rolled back. Again, humility vs arrogance. The former garners support. The latter makes enemies.
 
Dec 23, 2011
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RE: Permission Requested to Illuminate Historic Area Buildings

I would not call it an entertainment destination.

John Oliver mentioned CW actually. He mentioned it in a joke about how a kid wants to go to Disney and his parents take him to CW instead.

It's a living history textbook. How many kids actually enjoy history? I think CW has a tough job trying to attract families for vacations.
 

Zimmy

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RE: Permission Requested to Illuminate Historic Area Buildings

For the record I loved history as a kid. But then I grew up in a household where the study of history was very much in the forefront. Some of my earliest and best memories are walking around the Smithsonian with my parents and sister. I think if there is a lack of love of history it is because it is not emphasized enough by parents.

If you asked me, when I was 8 if I wanted to go to Disney or the Air and Space Museum in DC, there is no question which one I would have picked.

that being said, on the way home from DC I would have begged to stop at KD and BGW.
 

Nicole

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RE: Permission Requested to Illuminate Historic Area Buildings

I loved history as a child. I still love history. It really depends on how it is presented in many cases, I believe. It can be ruined and distilled into a series of boring facts. Or it can be presented as a story that is exciting and coherent.

Honestly, shows like GOT are essentially fictionalized histories. If the War of the Roses were presented on the same way, people would love it.
 
Feb 9, 2013
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RE: Permission Requested to Illuminate Historic Area Buildings

Party Rocker said:
I would not call it an entertainment destination.

John Oliver mentioned CW actually. He mentioned it in a joke about how a kid wants to go to Disney and his parents take him to CW instead.

It's a living history textbook. How many kids actually enjoy history? I think CW has a tough job trying to attract families for vacations.

I find this to be a broad generalization. I loved history as a child(still might be considered one :p). I still love it now. I love to learn more about larger wars. In fact, the Civil and Revolutionary war are two of my favorites, and I loved visiting CW as a child to see a place that was so prominent in one of them. I don't know, perhaps I was(am :p) one of the few, but history has always been something that comes naturally to me, and I love it.

Anyways, getting back on topic. I find this idea for up lighting to be a fairly nice one. If it really does turn out like the renderings, I think it would look beautiful at night. I'm not very concerned about the 'historical innaccuracies' of it all, it's not like CW is completely void of electronic things in the first place. Here's what I'm thinking the thought process behind this was: Up lighting gives the place night life, night life gives a reason for people to stay longer at night, more people staying at night means more possibilities for added attendance and revenue. I think it is a very smart way to give a more complete experience to the guest.
 
Jan 23, 2015
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Summer Launch of Illuminated Historic Area

Source: http://wydaily.com/2015/04/30/local-news-colonial-williamsburg-plans-summer-launch-of-illuminate-historic-area/

attachment.php

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

April 30, 2015 By Ian Brickey

For the first time in its 75-year history, the City of Williamsburg’s Historic Area will have nighttime illumination.

The Williamsburg Architectural Review Board approved the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s request to install lights for nighttime lighting on eight buildings throughout the Historic Area at its meeting Tuesday night.

The ARB approved the use of LED strip lighting elements at the eight buildings from dusk to midnight. The approved light fixtures are set in flush with the ground and are not visible from a distance or at a low angle.

Colonial Williamsburg has presented the plan as a way to boost visitation to the Historic Area at night after years of flagging attendance.

“The Historic Area seems closed at evenings, so we’re trying different things,” CWF Interim Vice President of Operations Robert Underwood said.

The buildings selected for illumination are:

   The Governor’s Palace
   The Courthouse of 1770
   The Capitol
   The Magazine
   The Public Hospital
   The George Wythe House
   The St. George Tucker House
   The Peyton Randolph House

Underwood said those eight buildings were chosen for their prominence in the Historic Area, architecture and connection to American history.

Some residents have come out against the plan as disruptive of the “historic” aura of the downtown area, and several reiterated such concerns at the meeting Tuesday. ARB members remained supportive of the plan.

“I’m a fairly enthusiastic supporter of this lighting,” ARB member Joe Hertzler said. “It will make the space much more lively. … I know Colonial Williamsburg would pull it off well.”

Colonial Williamsburg set up lights at the Governor’s Palace on April 16 as a demonstration for the ARB, which at least one board member said convinced him to support the plan.

“At the initial meeting [when the request was made], I was very apprehensive,” Demetrios Florakis, who represents the Planning Commission on the ARB, said. “Seeing the mockup, I was extremely impressed. It’s very tasteful.”

Ron Kirkland, executive director of the Williamsburg Hotel and Motel Association, also came out in support of the plan.

With the project approved, Colonial Williamsburg will solicit bids for its completion. Underwood pegged the project’s total cost at more than $500,000.

Colonial Williamsburg hopes to have lights installed at the four highest-visitation sites — the Governor’s Palace, Capitol, Magazine and Courthouse of 1770 — by summer, with the remaining buildings illuminated by fall.

 

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Ok if this what it's going to look like then I take back what I said earlier and support this. It seems like their goal was to make the lighting look authentic to the period. Good job CW.
 
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