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Lighthouse News of the Week – October 22, 2021

Light Station Restoration Complete on Swans Island, Maine

PRESS RELEASE, TOWN OF SWAN’S ISLAND

For further information contact: Eric Chetwynd, Secretary, Town Lighthouse Committee 919-259-3665 (voice or text), or eric.chetwynd@yahoo.com

After some 15 years of planning, fund raising, volunteer work and preservation work by dozens of contractors, the Town of Swan’s Island has completed the restoration of the Burnt Coat Harbor Light Station. There are four historic buildings at the light station – the light tower, the keeper’s house, the oil house and the bell house – and all four have undergone careful and thorough restoration in compliance with historic preservation standards. It is rare to find a light station with so many of the original buildings virtually intact.

Burnt Coat Harbor Light Station, Swans Island, Maine. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

As soon as restoration was well underway, the keeper’s house and tower were opened to the public during the summer season. Over the last several years,  thousands of visitors have toured these buildings and enjoyed local art and exhibits of local history in the keeper’s house. Climbing the tower with a local guide is a favorite activity for visitors – on a sunny day, the views from the top of the light tower are spectacular. Visitors also enjoy exploring the 1.8 miles of trails on Hockamock Head, adjacent to the light station site. An apartment on the upper floor of the keeper’s house has proved an extremely popular summer weekly rental. Rental income provides the Town with a revenue stream that assists with routine maintenance costs.

Below: Inside the restored keeper’s house.

Friends of the Swan’s Island Lighthouse (FOSIL) supported the Town financially in this historic restoration project through an annual appeal, a capital campaign and lots of grant applications.  Altogether, close to $900,000 was raised to complete the historic restoration of these buildings.

The light station, a critical aid to navigation in its day, still guides vessels safely into Burnt Coat Harbor. It still is a Coast Guard maintained active aid to navigation. Next year marks the 150th year that the light has shone from the tip of Hockamock Head. We hope that lighthouse friends and many of those who supported the restoration will join us in August 2022 as we celebrate the sesquicentennial of the lighting of the light!

For more detail on the restoration and future plans, check out the FOSIL website, www.burntcoatharborlight.com

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Colorado woman in running for Watch Hill Lighthouse (RI)

A Colorado woman who is applying to take ownership of the Watch Hill Lighthouse wants to use the historic landmark as a symbol to focus attention  on poverty and ways to help women become financially stable and astute. Meanwhile, Andrew “Buck” Barber, vice president of the Watch Hill Lighthouse Keepers Association, confirmed that the association is applying for ownership of the lighthouse. Residents, elected and appointed officials, and history and business organizations in Westerly, Rhode Island, and neighboring Stonington and Mystic, Connecticut, are all backing the association’s application, he said.

Watch Hill Light Station, Rhode Island. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

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New Point Comfort Lighthouse (VA) shines again

On October 12, the historic New Point Comfort Lighthouse at the southern tip of Virginia’s Mathews County flashed back to life.

New Point Comfort Lighthouse, Virginia. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo by Mike and Carol McKinney.

In 1963, the lighthouse itself was no longer needed as it was replaced by an offshore beacon. Five years later, the Coast Guard abandoned the lighthouse. In 1999, private funds were used to install a solar light, which functioned for six years before it became unsafe to haul heavy batteries over the slippery rocks surrounding the island and up the steep stone steps in the lighthouse.

In 2001, the New Point Comfort Lighthouse Preservation Task Force was created by the Mathews County Historical Society to come up with a master plan for the lighthouse. The total cost for the restoration project was $1.8 million. The lighthouse had been dark for 58 years and the new light is a cherry atop the historic sundae.

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Pensacola Lighthouse (FL) announces new archaeological discovery

The Pensacola Lighthouse and Maritime Museum in Florida announced on October 14 that an archaeological discovery was made in Pensacola.  The archaeological discovery uncovered the remains of a homestead where Charles Hart lived. Hart was a formerly enslaved person from Santa Rosa County. He fled bondage to work in Pensacola’s Navy yard, according to a news release from the Pensacola Lighthouse and Maritime Museum.

Pensacola Lighthouse, Florida. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo by Jeff Gales.

Hart worked at the lighthouse and founded the Good Hope AME church, according to the release.  With the help of Marlene Thomas, the granddaughter of Charles Hart, researchers were able to confirm via court documents that the Hart homestead was an archaeological site. The discovery of the site prompted the discoveries of four African American lighthouse keepers and the anticipated construction of the Hart Homestead and Archaeological Park.

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Pensacola Lighthouse and Maritime Museum

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Isle au Haut Lighthouse (ME) improvements completed

On September 30, the entrance and bell doors of Maine’s Isle au Haut Lighthouse were installed, and the lighthouse tower and granite base historic renovation was completed. Knowles Industrial Services of Gorham brought masons, mortar, bricks, coating and steel beams to Isle au Haut on June 2 and the crew spent the entire summer restoring the lighthouse, which is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Isle au Haut Light Station, Maine, Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

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Restored Browns Point Lighthouse (WA) reflects architecture of a bygone era

Led by Points Northeast Historical Society, a team of volunteers have restored the Browns Point Lighthouse in Washington to its former glory. Built in 1933, the iconic Art Deco lighthouse was celebrated with a Rededication Event on Oct. 17.

Browns Point Lighthouse’s got a new replica lantern, capping its restoration.

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New Peggy’s Cove (NS, Canada) viewing platform opens with Mi’kmaw smudging ceremony

About 100 people gathered near the postcard-perfect lighthouse at Nova Scotia’s Peggy’s Cove on Monday to mark the official opening of a viewing platform that had initially rankled some people. The 1,300-square-metre deck was designed to improve access to the site and discourage sightseers from venturing onto the wave-washed rocks when storms roll in.

Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse, Nova Scotia, Canada. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

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U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research.

If you have items of interest to the lighthouse community and its supporters, please email them to Jeremy D’Entremont at Jeremy@uslhs.org

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