Solar-Powered Preservation Lights Up In Gloucester

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Fairfield Foundation Teams with Dominion Virginia Power in Restoration of the Center for Archaeology, Preservation and Education (CAPE)

When it comes to lighting up Main Street, the archaeologists at the The Fairfield Foundation aren’t afraid to use modern technology to illuminate the past. Literally.

Thanks to a partnership with Dominion Virginia Power, the foundation’s Center for Archaeology, Preservation and Education (CAPE), will be powered by the sun. Dominion Power funded the purchase and recent installation of a 5KW solar photovoltaic array on the roof. It was installed by the Richmond-based company Off-Grid by Design and is the first of its kind in our area.

They also accepted the Fairfield Foundation into the Solar Purchase Program.

The solar panels on the roof of the CAPE will not only provide the energy to operate the building, but because the building will not need all the power generated, the excess energy will be sold back to Dominion Virginia Power to help meet others' energy needs.

“We’re excited to offer the Solar Purchase Program to qualifying customers across our Virginia service territory as we continue to see an increased interest in solar generation,” said Melanie Rapp Beale, Dominion Virginia Power's Eastern Region External Affairs Manager. “Customers, such as The Fairfield Foundation, are helping to expand solar energy in the Commonwealth by participating in this pilot program.”

“The help of these community partners allows us to set an example for sustainable design in our region, and highlight the opportunities for merging preservation with innovation,” said Fairfield Foundation’s co-director, Thane Harpole.

As a regional preservation center and archaeology lab, the CAPE will be a place where the public can learn about and participate in activities that enhance and promote the history and cultural heritage of the Middle Peninsula and beyond.

Once the CAPE is complete and open to the community, it will function as an archaeology lab, working classroom, museum, preservation information center and community gathering space.

“Over the past few months you may have noticed great progress in restoring the historic landmark,” said Dr. Dave Brown, Fairfield Foundation’s co-director. “Some of the recent work is visible. Electrician Patrick Karow, through the enormous generosity of Luxterra Electrical, is restoring our exterior lighting, which uses solar power to illuminate the building in the evenings, as well as returning the original roof columns to the front of the building and adding restored globe lighting.”

It brings the CAPE, formerly the Edge Hill Service Station, much closer to its 1930s appearance, and “breathes life into this Main Street gateway,” Brown added.

Bahama Breeze Shutter and Awning and the CAPE’s team of volunteers and supporters have also recently returned the green and white-striped awning to the east side of the building, perfectly matching the original seen in early photographs.

Local artisans and contractors, including John Latell of Wicomico Forge, Rick Andrews of Bayside Joinery, Robbie Whitehurst of Whitehurst and Son Construction, and Gus Rhodes of GSR Drywall helped make those improvements.

“This showcases the talents of many of our local craftsmen, and highlights some of the direct economic benefits of historic preservation on our community,” Harpole said. “The CAPE is a community project, and local citizens and businesses have stepped up to the plate to help make this vision a reality.”


The Fairfield Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit organization. Its mission is to promote and involve the public in hands-on archaeology, preservation, and education activities within Virginia’s Middle Peninsula and surrounding areas. Sharing this knowledge with the public will increase the awareness of significant archaeological and historical resources within the region. Our public outreach and educational programs serve as examples of how to properly investigate, interpret, and preserve historic resources within the county.

The Fairfield Foundation can be reached at fairfield(at)fairfieldfoundation(dot)org or 804-815-4467.

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