The Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard is a great destination for anyone who’s interested in lighthouses. There are five lighthouses on the island, including Cape Poge Light on Chappaquiddick, an island that’s connected to Martha’s Vineyard. And the Martha’s Vineyard Museum in Vineyard Haven has the first-order Fresnel lens from Gay Head Lighthouse on display.
Richard Skidmore has been the modern day keeper of Gay Head Lighthouse for the past 30 years. Richard is a former book reviewer for the New York Times, and he’s also an award-winning experimental filmmaker whose work has been seen on television and in many festivals. His wife, Joan LeLacheur, a jewelry maker, also helps with the lighthouse duties.
Above: Gay Head Light Artifact Recovery 2020 from Richard Skidmore on Vimeo.
In this entertaining interview, Richard talks about being the longest serving keeper in Gay Head history, about life in the unique community of Aquinnah, about his background as a filmmaker, and what it was like being very much involved (to the point of personal peril) in the historic 2015 move of the lighthouse.
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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