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Louisa Interpretive Center

The Louisa Interpretive Center will be a 40-acre destination featuring integration of existing local resources, innovative site development and an earth-sheltered building. Diverse interpretive techniques will be used to create a meaningful experience for Great River Road travelers. The project when completed will include:

  • A facility that houses exhibits, classrooms and spaces to gather groups;
  • Site development that includes wetlands, gardens, forest, prairie, trails and outdoor exhibits;
  • LEED Certification assuring that the building exemplifies high environmental standards;
  • Connections to local natural and cultural sites for further interpretation.

A Unique Center for a Unique Experience A master plan for the Louisa Interpretive Center at Langwood was completed in 2006, thanks in part to a National Scenic Byways grant.  A brief description of each of the components of the center are listed below.

The Facility The architecture of the building will be modeled after ancient mound building techniques. Gentle, yet compelling transitions between architecture and landscape are a key design concept for the interpretive center; experienced dramatically during the initial entry sequence. Throughout the design, visitors move between spaces which emphasize the earth's enclosure and those which open to views onto the surrounding site. This interaction serves to subtly demonstrate the ability of man-made physical structures to positively co-exist within our natural environment. The earth flows over the building space providing natural insulation and a living environment reducing storm water runoff and the need for expensive temperature control. The floor plan for the building includes the standard office, reception and gift shop areas; classroom and meeting spaces; a wet lab and multilevel exhibit space. The indoor displays will lead visitors to doors that open onto trails to outdoor exhibits. The building will be LEED certified so that it might serve visitors as an example and inspiration regarding environmentally conscientious building practices.

The Site and Outdoor Exhibits The immediate landscape surrounding the interpretive center will serve as a primary topic for interpretation. As visitors enter the site from the road, they will see a pond, wetlands, prairie grasses, trails, mound-shaped land forms and glimpses of what, perhaps, is the building. A series of trails connects the building to outdoor displays and to longer trails leading to a deck overlooking the Mississippi River valley and the ponds and timber of Langwood Education Center and Camp. The parking lot and roadway are tucked in among the prairie, wetlands and mounds rising from the landscape. Visitors stopping at the site afterhours will still find a complete interpretive experience.

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Interpertive Center Funding

Adjacent Facilities The site chosen for development of the interpretive center is adjacent to Langwood Education Center and Camp, a facility owned by Louisa County Conservation Board. The main building is a lodge used for environmental education programs, day camps and is also available for rental by groups. There is also a dormitory that is used by groups for overnight stays. A high and low ropes challenge course is used by groups for team building activities. Other recreational opportunities include a pond, canoes, trails, open spaces for games and a bird-viewing blind. The day use functions of Langwood - such as hiking, fishing and bird watching - will be available to interpretive center visitors at no charge.

Great River Road The Great River Road in Louisa County runs through the heart of the Louisa Resource Area. This area consists of over 15,000 acres of publicly-owned conservation areas as well as historic sites and museums. More than a dozen sites lie within a ten minute drive of the center and include places for visitors to watch wildlife, canoe, hunt, fish, camp and learn about the cultural heritage associated with the Mississippi River region. While area residents are familiar with many of these Mississippi resources, byway travelers do not currently have a way to find information about them. Regretfully uninformed, these travelers drive past, unaware of the experiences and insights they are missing.