Virginia Beach’s historic Princess Anne County Courthouse will turn 200 years old next year.
While it may not look a day over 199, it is due for a makeover, according to a 2017 historic structure report.
That includes receiving a “red wash.”
Red wash isn’t a cleanser, nor a paint — it’s a tinted coating.
Traces of an original red wash and touch-ups through the years have been found through sampling areas of the courthouse’s exterior. The latest will deepen the red finish of the facade with the hope of replicating its original look.
Beauty comes at a price — about $92,000, according to Mark Reed, a historic preservation planner in Virginia Beach. That includes both the red wash and a “repointing,” replacing damaged mortar between bricks.
The red wash isn’t just cosmetic. Its practical purpose is to serve as a “sacrificial layer” for the elements, according to a press release.
Red wash was common among colonial and brick buildings in the first half of the 19th century as it offered basic waterproofing, according to Calder Loth, a retired architectural historian from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
“The courthouse is really a very iconic building for the city,” Reed said.
People may not remember how the building looked the last time it got a face-lift roughly 50 years ago, Reed said, so the red wash will be a significant change.
The Princess Anne County Courthouse first opened in December 1822 after the General Assembly approved an appeal to move the county courthouse from Kempsville to the current location in order to be more centrally located.
It not only served court functions but also as an office and meeting place for the county’s board of supervisors. Today, the building houses city offices, including Virginia Beach’s emergency management department.
Reed said preserving historic buildings is a necessary investment for the city.
“Preserving them helps preserve that identity,” Reed said. “Knowing your community’s history is an important part of being a member of it.”
Julianna Morano, 323-553-2644, firstname.lastname@example.org