Saint Paul’s Church
LED Facade Lighting
Norfolk, VA

The Saint Paul’s Church was constructed in 1739, and is believed to be the oldest building in the City of Norfolk. It was the only house of worship in the city until 1773 and accommodated the only public cemetery in Norfolk until the 1820’s. Following the bombardment and burning of Norfolk in January of 1776, the thick masonry walls of the structure remained standing. The Church was restored and returned to active use in the 1780’s. Over the years, the building has seen a number of renovations and additions, and remains an active parish within the City today.

The Saint Paul’s Church has been the location of notable events in local and national history: brief use as a fort by Hessian soldiers in 1781; a formal commemoration of the death of George Washington in 1800 (and repeated in 2000); use of the church for religious services by Union forces during the occupation of Norfolk in the Civil War; a featured local attraction during the Jamestown Centennial Exposition in 1907; and the funeral of General Douglas MacArthur in 1964.

Lighting of the exterior of the structure was done with LED ground mounted lighting fixtures. The circuiting for the lighting originated at low voltage transformers mounted in non-metallic under-grade transformer vaults. Low voltage circuiting was selected because it allowed the use of very shallow conduit burial (6-inches below the surface). This permitted safe hand excavation in and around the vast array of burial sites within the cemetery. A pre-cast fixture mounting block was designed and constructed of concrete specifically for this project to allow semi-permanent mounting of the fixtures on the surface of the ground. This virtually eliminated the need for extensive excavation for lighting fixture foundations.

Careful placement of the lighting fixtures was dependent upon the locations of the many graves in close proximity to the church structure. This resulted in less than ideal fixture placement and less than perfect lighting uniformity on several surfaces. However, this “movement” in light intensity proved to add visual interest to the illuminated walls.

During the process of installing the lighting and the associated trimming of landscape shrubs, the team uncovered the grave marker of a 20-month old child that died on Christmas day in 1789, some 227 years before the project. If not for this project, this grave marker may have remained hidden for years to come.

Two LED spotlights, each with a very tight eight-degree distribution pattern, were used to illuminate the cross on the very top of the church. The weatherproof spotlights were mounted on the adjacent bell tower roof some 75 feet from the cross.