Thanks to funding by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State’s Bluff Point Lighthouse on Valcour Island in Lake Champlain has been meticulously restored to its 1874 exterior appearance.
The major restoration project began with an asbestos abatement program. The original steel roof surface was removed because it contained asbestos tar. The chimney section above the roof had also been coated with asbestos tar and was removed. Basically everything red has been replaced.
In spite of what remarkable structures lighthouses are, there were a few design deficiencies in the original building. The copper floor covering the outside of the tower did not extend completely below the double layer wooden deck. This allowed water to seep between the layers causing it to rot. The bolts fastening the railing to the floor had also leaked. The main source of damage to the top deck was the solder joints on the copper deck sections; they had separated, allowing water to leak down through the wooden deck. The flashing on the second floor windows had also leaked for a long time. The outside tower door was missing, allowing rain to leak passed the inside door. A new outside door was fabricated and covered with copper.
Modern materials and techniques have now made the lighthouse much more watertight than it was originally. All of the roof surfaces are now covered with a flexible self-sealing ice and water barrier underlayment to prevent leakage. The same product was used under the new cedar shingles on the mansard roof. The tower roof is copper with soldered flat lock joints so they cannot separate and leak as they did originally. The main roof is now a modern standing seam product with a new copper cricket against the new “used brick” chimney.
Rabideau Corporation, the contractor for the restoration project, fabricated intricate copper drip edge for all the edges where water runs off the building, and new downspouts were added to direct water away from the structure. They also replaced the old downspouts that originally directed water into the cistern.
In addition, the Clinton County Historical Association has added new exhibits, and old ones were upgraded. They also completely patched, scraped, and gave a fresh coat of paint to the interior of the lighthouse.
This story appeared in the
Nov/Dec 2016 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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