If you’re visiting the Historic Area in early 2016, you can expect to see critical conservation and landscape maintenance work underway at two locations–in the Governor’s Palace formal gardens and along portions of Duke of Gloucester Street.
The work coincides with a limited site and program schedule in January, when we will take advantage of this traditionally quiet month to focus on conservation and maintenance along with staff training, upgrades to IT and admissions systems, and enhancement of the guest experience, including preparation for unprecedented Black History Month programming in February.
“The Historic Area’s restoration is an ongoing process as our operations, preservation, trades staff, conservators, and other colleagues work to improve and preserve its infrastructure and landscape,” said Colonial Williamsburg President and CEO Mitchell B. Reiss. “Each project is critical, and some are more visible than others. We appreciate the support and understanding of our guests and the community during this important effort.”
Before year’s end, Colonial Williamsburg operations staff and architectural conservators are scheduled to temporarily remove the north gates from the rear of the Governor’s Palace formal gardens. They will be restored off-site and reinstalled at a date yet to be determined. The 13-foot-high wrought-iron gates are more than 70 years old and were last restored in the 1980s. They are located within the Palace compound so their absence will not affect site access.
During the first quarter of 2016, staff and contractors will remove (and in most cases replace) landscape elements that have deteriorated due to age or have outgrown their locations and detract from the gardens’ health, maintenance, and appearance:
- The beech trees along the center footpath on the gardens’ north side are sick, structurally weak and reduce sunlight and water for nearby boxwood topiaries and display beds. They will be removed and replaced with corresponding smaller, flowering trees.
- The gardens’ 12 yaupon columns have grown beyond scale, pose maintenance challenges and obstruct views of the Palace and of the garden itself. The six closest to the Palace hold moisture close to the structure, posing conservation concerns. All 12 will be removed and the six offset from the Palace will be replaced.
- Many of the topiaries on the gardens’ north side are distressed due to competition from the beech trees. They will remain following the trees’ replacement, to be replaced themselves only if necessary.
Duke of Gloucester Street
Long-term, incremental work will also begin in January to repair and restore grass plots between the sidewalks and curbs along the length of Duke of Gloucester Street, and to recondition the street’s cobblestone gutters. The turf’s deterioration allows erosion that has exposed tree roots, and soil runoff has covered the cobblestones in many areas.
Clamshells and pea gravel will be removed from the plots, sod laid, and brick pads for benches installed. Gutters will be restored to expose just the tops of the cobblestones, and brick sidewalks and walks between the street and sidewalk at site entrances will be repaired where needed.
The sidewalk, grass, and gutter repairs will be limited in early 2016 to the block between Queen and Colonial Streets. Long-term plans call for repair of additional stretches in the months and years to come.
Trees the length of Duke of Gloucester Street will be pruned beginning in January to ensure their health and safety, to maintain distance from buildings, and to provide clear views of both the Capitol and the Wren Building at the College of William & Mary from any point on the street, as intended in the Historic Area’s original restoration.
Click here for a look at everything that will be open and will remain “business as usual” in January! And be sure to check back tomorrow for a lineup of all of the exciting exhibits and programs taking place in our Art Museums.
GUEST BLOGGER: JOE STRAW
Joe is a public relations manager with Colonial Williamsburg, focusing on media engagement related to the Historic Area, the Art Museums and educational outreach. Joe joined the foundation in 2014 after a long haul in print journalism. A lifelong fan of history and of learning in general, he’s thrilled to work in a place where he gets lessons each day from colleagues at the top of their fields.
Outside work Joe gets his kicks from family, friends, his dogs, and Star Wars movies.