Dear Museums Friends,
First, I would like to wish you a very happy new year! I hope you were able to enjoy a wonderful holiday season filled with the warmth and company of family and friends.
This past year was marked by fruitful new beginnings, as the Virginia Beach History Museums resumed in-person events and programs after being reduced due to the pandemic.
As we kick off 2022, we could not be more thankful for your ongoing support and interest in the Virginia Beach History Museums. We hope you enjoy this newsletter, and we look forward to seeing you at a tour or program soon!
Francis Land House Restoration Updates
Unforeseen site conditions were encountered shortly after work began. These conditions included higher than anticipated water and moisture infiltration due to failed building envelope, resulting in rot and increased damage to the structure. Additionally, the originally procured chemical-based fire suppression system is no longer recommended for use in historic homes, and there is an increased cost associated with the installation of the preferred water-based fire suppression system. As a result, the contractor’s contract needed to be revised to restore a water-tight building envelope, install the appropriate fire suppression system, and make additional unforeseen repairs. These changes were approved by City Council on July 13, 2021.
To better protect the house in case of fire, the contractors are in the process of redesigning and installing a wet/dry sprinkler system. The contractors are also working on water mitigation strategies on the roof to ensure water does not soak into the chimneys. In addition, they are building and installing platforms to elevate the HVAC units to protect from water damage.
Bentonite panels will be placed against the exterior walls of the basement, as well, to absorb moisture and prevent as much moisture from entering the brick foundation walls as possible. The existing moisture barrier, which was installed in the 1970s, is likely holding moisture in the walls, and will be removed. The masonry will then be repointed and parged prior to the installation of the bentonite panels.
The Virginia Beach History Museums also applied for certificates of appropriateness (COAs), which are issued by the Historical Review Board (HRB), to make alterations to the Francis Land House’s back porch and back porch stairs.
The existing back brick stairs and wooden handrail, which are not original to the historic structure, will be replaced with historically appropriate Cypress stairs, which will match the replaced main front porch stairs.
The contractor also discovered that the back porch lapboard, which is deteriorating, was not original to the historic structure. However, they did discover original bead board beneath the lapboard. The repair/replacement of the bead board will be presented to the Historical Review Board for their approval.
Lynnhaven House Restoration Updates
The Lynnhaven House will remain closed in 2022. Currently, we are in the water migration process to monitor for any structural issues. As part of this process, we will need to install gutters and grade out the house, or install French drains, to ensure water is being channeled away from the house effectively.
We are also planning to digitally monitor moisture and temperature variations in the house throughout the year. The data obtained through the monitoring process will help staff understand how well the system is working, and provide information on areas in need of attention, in order to maintain appropriate moisture levels. After the moisture monitoring has concluded, the final finishing work will commence.
2021 Year in Review
After over a year of being closed due to pandemic safety measures, the historic Thoroughgood House reopened for public tours and events in May 2021. Since then, thousands of individuals have been on tours, participated in programs and enjoyed private events.
Expanded tour hours, including Thursday evening tours and, for the first time in years, Sunday tours, were also added to the Thoroughgood House schedule. On select Thursday evenings, the Virginia Beach History Museums began presenting specialty focus tours, with topics including “The Enslaved Perspective,” “First Peoples of Virginia,” “Folklore and Superstition” and more.
As part of the recognition of the United States’ newest federal holiday, the Virginia Beach History Museums participated in the Virginia Beach Cultural Affairs Department’s weekend-long Juneteenth celebration.
The Virginia Beach History Museums and Princess Anne Country Training School/Union Kempsville High School Alumni & Friends Association (PACTS/UKHS) hosted a free musical performance to celebrate African American Music Month! The TFC Band joined Becky Livas and Teens With a Purpose for an afternoon of entertainment, and the Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School Museum was open for tours. Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer was also in attendance and presented his African American Music Month proclamation on stage.
Bonfires and Brews
In October 2021, the Virginia Beach Historic Houses Foundation hosted “Bonfires and Brews,” a pilot program at the Lynnhaven House. Approximately 600 people attended this fun fall event, which featured music from Brackish Water Jamboree, beer from Pleasure House Brewing, food trucks, fire pits and games across the ground. Visitors also had the chance to get a sneak peak of the restoration work happening at the Lynnhaven House, and to learn about its history. Proceeds from the event went towards the Virginia Beach Historic Houses Foundation’s mission.
Ghosts of Thoroughgood Past
Throughout October 2021, the Virginia Beach History Museums hosted an immersive series of haunted tours at the Thoroughgood House to set the spooky spirit of the season! Nearly 800 Virginia Beach residents and visitors attended “Ghosts of Thoroughgood Past” tours, which included costumed actors keeping guests, with the help of their EMF Ghost Meters, on the lookout for haunting encounters. Several
guests, actors and staff reported sensing paranormal activity! Guests were also invited to enjoy warm apple cider, and sit by the fire, to warm up during the crisp mid-autumn nights.
O Christmas Tea
In December 2021, Dickens met Downton Abbey at the Lynnhaven House during “O Christmas Tea.” During this late 19th century holiday tea, guests enjoyed a specially curated selection of four traditional Victorian teas, a menu of tasty treats and a variety of holiday melodies! Museums Director Annmarie-Reiley Kay provided several tea history tidbits along the way.
Our staff is in the process of re-shaping educational programming, as well as creating new seasonal programming. Stay tuned for more exciting news! For more updates from the Virginia Beach History Museums, please sign up for our monthly e-newsletter at the Virginia Beach History Museums website.
Once again, thank you for your continued support and interest in preserving and enhancing the Virginia Beach History Museums. Please do not hesitate to email me at email@example.com if you have any questions, and we will keep you posted on the next steps in the restoration processes.
My Best Wishes,
Director, Virginia Beach History Museums
Please CLICK HERE for a PDF version of this update.