Colonial Williamsburg hopes more lights will bring more people to the historic area

Posted at 7:10 PM, Apr 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-29 19:10:19-04

Williamsburg, Va. - A lot of people visit Colonial Williamsburg every year to get a taste of our heritage and history.

"Most of the time, they come away saying, 'God, I had no idea that there was that much there,'" said Bob Lane, chairman of the City of Williamsburg Architectural Review Board.

However, when the sun goes down, many of the historic buildings go unseen.  And the crowds of people you see during the day don't come out at night.

"One of the perceptions you get if you walk down here, other than the street lights, [is that] things are kind of dark at night," said Lane.

"In the evening, it appears to be closed.  There's not a lot of activity drawn into the historic area," said Robert Underwood, Vice-President of Operations for Colonial Williamsburg.

However, they hope that will change. On Tuesday night, the city's Architectural Review Board approved Colonial Williamsburg to install more lights on eight buildings, all to attract more people to the historic area at night.

"We have nighttime programming, we want to bring people into it," said Underwood.

Several LED lights will be used to shine directly on the buildings in order to inhibit light pollution in the area.

"We're using a warm, white light to up-light the buildings with a fixture that is designed to direct the light to the façade of the building and to minimize any lighting escaping around the building or to the sky," said Underwood.

The Governor's Palace, the Capitol, the Magazine, and the Courthouse will be the first buildings lit by this summer.  The remaining four buildings - the Public Hospital, the George Wythe House, the Peyton Randolph House and the St. George Tucker House - will be lit by fall.

Underwood says Colonial Williamsburg has seen a decline in visitation over the past decade, largely due to the economy.

"Clearly, if they can increase the  visits, it's a win-win.  Obviously it's good for them but good for the city," said Lane.