Digest>Archives> September 2000

Salute to the Coast Guard: Annisquam Light Back in Shape

By Jeremy D’Entremont


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Marty Nally of Campbell Construction at the top ...
Photo by: Jeremy D'Entremont

The village of Annisquam in Gloucester, Massachusetts, is home to one of New England’s prettiest lighthouse stations. The lighthouse stands at the entrance to the Annisquam RIver, which is actually an estuary open to the ocean at both ends. The lighthouse location was formerly known as Wigwam Point because of its historical use as a gathering place for Native Americans.

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Thousands of boaters pass the lighthouse each summer, and it can be seen from across the river at Wingaersheek Beach. From all outward appearances the lighthouse tower looked to be in perfect condition., but a closer examination revealed serious problems. Those problems have been solved by a restoration by the Coast Guard and Campbell Construction Group.

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Photo by: Jeremy D'Entremont

The present brick tower, built in 1897, is the third at the location. A recent inspection found that iron beams in the tower, installed to support a landing below the lantern level, had badly rusted and deteriorated, causing the upper part of the tower to lift more than three inches. Daylight could actually be seen from inside the tower through the resulting crack. It was decided that the beams needed to be replaced, along with about five to six feet of brickwork all the way around the tower.

Coast Guard architect Marsha Levy, from Civil Engineering Unit Providence, did the design work for the restoration of the lighthouse. Campbell Construction Group of Beverly, Massachusetts, was the contractor. The company has restored more lighthouses than anyone in New England.

According to Marty Nally, mason and vice president of Campbell Construction Group, the lighthouse was very well built by the original masons. They couldn’t have foreseen the problem with the rusting beams, he says, and they didn’t have the advantage of today’s rust resistant metals. Nally and his crew removed and replaced about 3,000 bricks in the tower during the restoration. They also removed the old glass block windows and replaced them with new ones.

The keeper’s house at the station dates back to 1801, when the first Annisquam Lighthouse was built. The house has been altered over the years and is modernized inside. As part of the restoration project, the dwelling’s roof was replaced, using durable, wind resistant shingles.

The workers on the Annisquam Light restoration, in addition to Marty Nally, included carpenters Greg Campbell, Skip Walter and Jeremy Campbell, and mason Clem Fraize.

Annisquam Light, still an active aid to navigation, is now standing straight and strong again and will be be gracing calendars and postcards for many decades to come.

This story appeared in the September 2000 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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