Digest>Archives> July 2008

Keeper's Korner

Tidbits and Editorial Comments from the Tower

By Timothy Harrison


Florida’s Lighthouse Day Official

Florida’s Governor, Charlie Crist, has signed an official proclamation that declares September 20, as Florida’s Lighthouse Day. The proclamation indicated that 30 of the 59 lighthouses constructed in Florida are still standing and they are important to the state’s heritage, history and tourism and since they were built they continue to play a significant role in the economic role and development of the state. Congratulations to the folks at the Florida Lighthouse Association who made this happen. Now, if all states with lighthouses could have a state lighthouse day, wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Clare Island Light Sold

Ireland’s Clare Island Lighthouse has been purchased by a German doctor as a birthday present for his wife at a cost of over two and a quarter million dollars. The sale disappointed many locals who had wanted the government or the local community to buy it as a tourist attraction that they believed could have made money. The lighthouse had been decommissioned in 1965 and has had other private owners in the past. One of the previous owners, Robert and Monica Timmerman spent a substantial amount of money restoring it.

French Lighthouses In Trouble

Many of the great lighthouses of the world were built in France, the same country where the Fresnel lens was invented that were once used in every American lighthouse and many lighthouses around the world. However, according to Marc Pointud, the current state of condition of France’s lighthouses is a sin against civilization. He has sounded the alarm by founding the National Society for the Patrimony of Lighthouses and Signals to save France’s lighthouses. We hope he can move faster than we have in this country to save these historic icons. However, many pessimists in France, as in this country and other nations, believe it will be impossible to save many of them, especially the great offshore stations, where restoration can be too expensive. Time will tell.

Volunteers In Short Supply

While it seems that everybody loves lighthouses and some lighthouses have plenty of volunteers, some lighthouses have trouble getting volunteers. Such is the case at Cape Ray Lighthouse in Newfoundland, Canada, where Dennis and Bernice Tavener ran the lighthouse and the gift shop all by themselves last year, often working six days a week. This year, they say they’ll close the tower for tours unless some people come forward, which we hope will happen before we go to press. There are many benefits to being a volunteer. Although there is no pay, the personal satisfaction of knowing that you have helped make a difference is well worth it, even in the short term. Become a volunteer, you’ll be glad you did.

Wright’s Beavertail Replica

Steve Wright, owner of American Lawn Lights, a regular advertiser in Lighthouse Digest, displayed a specially commissioned replica of the Beavertail Lighthouse at the Virtu Arts Festival in Westerly, Rhode Island this past May. Wright makes replicas of 48 specific lighthouses. You can learn more on his web site at www.americanlawnlights.com.

West Quoddy Light Wants You

How often do you get invited at a 200th birthday party? If you’ve never attended one, now is your opportunity. West Quoddy Lighthouse in Lubec, Maine, will be celebrating its 200th birthday on Saturday, July19, and you’ll want to be there. The events start at 10 am. There will be a Coast Guard cutter sail by, a proclamation from the Governor of Maine, guest speakers, entertainment, a special envelope cancellation, raffles and food. Wow, and all at the famous red and white striped beacon that is the easternmost lighthouse on the mainland of the United States.

Stroke Of The Pen Makes It Official

Florida’s Governor Charlie Crist made it official at the end of May as he signed a bill into law giving Florida an official lighthouse license plate. Funds from the sale of the license plate will go to helping to restore and maintain Florida’s historic 28 lighthouses. However, getting this bill passed into law took the hard work of dedicated of volunteers to raise the money and obtain the signatures. Will you take the lead in your state to get a lighthouse license plate? In only takes one or two people to take the lead. Hmmm, wouldn’t it be neat if a state like Arizona or New Mexico would issue a lighthouse license plate, just to prove that people from those states also love and support lighthouses!

Lighthouses Being Excessed

A number of lighthouses are in the process of being excessed as surplus property and many of them are likely to go to local communities or other government agencies and some may very well go up for auction to the highest bidder. Some of these lighthouses are Old Saybrook, CT; East Charity Shoal, Buffalo Harbor, and Latimer Reef in NY; Straitsmouth in MA; Baker Island and Ram Island Ledge in Maine; Alpena, St. Joseph Pier and Muskegon Pier in MI; and Kenosha Pierhead in WI. As is typical some with some of the media today some reporters give the impression in their stories that the lighthouses are about to be torn down.

Christies Breaks Art Sale Record

A painting by artist Marsden Hartley, titled, Lighthouse, set a record sale price for the American Modernism category, selling for over $6 million. Unfortunately, we don’t have an image of the painting to share with you, but it can be found on-line. I’ve seen it, and personally, I think the $6 million could have been better spent.

Life Saving Station To Be Lost

It now appears that even after a judge’s decision to give a temporary reprieve Ocean City New Jersey’s Life-Saving Station will be torn down at the end of the summer tourist season. The Life Saving station has been in private ownership as a family home for many years until the owner died and the new owners purchased the building in 1999 for $710,000. They are asking over one million dollars to sell it to be saved. Otherwise they plan to tear down the beautifully maintained structure. It was stated by the attorney for the owners that the public and private sector have spoken clearly that the building has no historical value since they have not put their money where their mouth is. Apparently he has no idea how difficult it is to raise money for historic preservation no matter what or where the structure is. The Life-Saving Service was a sister organization to the United States Lighthouse Service. The motto of the surf-men of the Life Saving Service who went out in boats to rescue people from shipwrecks was, “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back.” The U.S. Life Saving Service and the United States Revenue Cutter Service were merged in 1915 to become the U.S. Coast Guard. This is just one more argument against private ownership of historic properties.

This story appeared in the July 2008 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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