Living history performances are utilized at many museums and lighthouses, but few light stations have utilized the concept of living history to the extent that Burnt Island Light Station in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, does. The Maine Department of Marine Resources acquired the Burnt Island Light Station in 1998 as part of the Maine Lights Program. Burnt Island’s restored light station buildings and grounds have been transformed into a living history museum where interpreters in period costume portray a historic lighthouse family.
Visitors arrive by tour boat from Boothbay Harbor and disembark at the island, where they learn about life on the island from Keeper Joseph Muise, his wife Annie, and their children as they recount their daily activities and share their stories of joy, sorrow, dedication, and survival.
Katie Brydon started playing the role of one of the daughters of Keeper Joseph Muise at Burnt Island while she was a drama major at Emerson College in Boston. A few years later, she and her husband played the keeper and his wife for a while. In this interview, she talks about the experience and the value of living history programs at historic sites.
Today, Katie is the national director of programs for Best Buddies International, a nonprofit organization that consists of volunteers who create opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org