Nearly two-hundred steps to the top, the Cape Henry lighthouse marks the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay.
It was the first public works project of the United States, authorized by George Washington, its been there for 226 years.
Jessica Collins the Cape Henry Site Coordinator said, “Really the first thing the US Congress under the constitution ever did was build this lighthouse.”
It hasn’t been used since 1881 when a newer lighthouse was built.
Collins said, “That’s not very common. So typically when a new lighthouse is built, they tear the old one down, but they didn’t tear this one down because of its connection to the founding fathers.”
It’s now a popular tourist spot, but it needs some help.
Collins said, “If the dune keeps eroding, we would lose the lighthouse.”
Nearly two-thirds of the lighthouse’s foundation is exposed, thanks to mother nature.
Historic preservation planner Mark Reed said, “here you can see the effects of 200 years of wind and water, and it been exacerbated by later attempts to repair the structure.”
Reed says the restoration project will focus on restoring the dune and stabilizing the base.
Reed said, “This is a national historic landmark, we only have 2 of those in Virginia Beach. Very important to preserve it.” plus “We’re going to improve the visitor experience significantly here around the base of the lighthouse.”
It’s a 1.1 million dollar project, funded by federal grants, the city of Virginia Beach, and Preservation Virginia, which owns the lighthouse.
Reed said, “It’s an icon for Virginia beach, its right in the center of our city seal so its an important project to us.”
Preserving history with every step.