The alluring Pomham Rocks Lighthouse, built on a tiny island in 1871, provides a pleasant contrast to the modern skyline of East Providence and its nearby industrial neighbor on the Providence River in Rhode Island — ExxonMobil Pipeline Company. Because of its proximity to their property, ExxonMobil purchased the lighthouse in 1980. The navigational light had been removed to a nearby skeletal tower in 1974.
ExxonMobil did some upkeep and maintained a steady watch
over the structure. However, by the end of the 20th century,
the wooden lighthouse required stabilization and restoration.
It was at this time that ExxonMobil consulted with the American Lighthouse Foundation.
In 2004, ExxonMobil and the nonprofit American Lighthouse Foundation (ALF) reached an agreement that eventually resulted in a 25-year lease to the nonprofit lighthouse preservation group for the long term care of the historic lighthouse. Tim Harrison, president of ALF said at the time, “This is a perfect example of a wonderful working partnership between the corporate world and the nonprofit sector. We can only hope that other corporations will follow ExxonMobil’s lead in helping the American Lighthouse Foundation with its many preservation projects.”
Shortly after the agreement was signed, The Friends of Pomham Rocks Lighthouse (FPRL) was launched as a chapter of ALF. ExxonMobil contributed $50,000 to start the restoration fundraising effort and before long, well over a $100,000 had been raised by the chapter to start the first phase of the restoration project.
Historic restoration expert Keith Lescarbeau of the Abcore Restoration Company, Inc. was hired to begin restoration work. Abcore was previously responsible for the acclaimed restoration of Rhode Island’s Plum Beach Lighthouse in 2003.
Lescarbeau examined the building and was excited to find much of the original beveled siding still in good shape, covered by modern siding. The first phase of restoration, completed in early 2006, included repairs to the roof, lantern, siding and trim. The tower, which had developed a seven-degree tilt, was straightened and secured.
About 40 percent of the original siding was salvaged, and a window that had been covered for years was reconstructed. The new exterior hue of the building — a light cream color — matches the original color. Layers of old paint were removed from the granite foundation. Many architectural details were restored, including copper downspouts on the sides of the building. The station’s oil house was also restored, with the addition of a new bright red roof.
On an unusually calm, almost spring-like day in mid-December, a contingent of ALF and FPRL volunteers visited the lighthouse to inspect Abcore’s work. As he explained the restoration process to the visitor, it was obvious to see the meticulousness detail that Lescarbeau passionately brought to the project.
David Kelleher, among the visitors that day, remarked, “I really think that he fell in love with the place and has placed his heart and soul into the job.” Bill Collette, vice president of ALF said, “The restoration that Abcore has completed at Pomham Rocks Lighthouse is simply outstanding. Keith and his crew went the extra step to make everything right.” Bob Trapani, executive director of the American Lighthouse Foundation, added, “Both the visual and narrative aspects of the site visit were very enlightening, but just as impressive was seeing the unbridled passion and dedication of the Abcore crew. You could plainly see that this wasn’t just a ‘job’ for them, but a labor of love.” Trapani went on to say, “However, none of this would have been possible if not for the partnership between ExxonMobil and the American Lighthouse Foundation and the dedicated hard work of the motivated volunteers of our chapter, The Friends of Pomham Rocks Lighthouse.”
Plans are in the works to restore the interior — pending
further fundraising and to return the navigational light to the lighthouse’s lantern.
For more information on the Friends of Pomham Rocks Lighthouse, check the American Lighthouse Foundation website at www.lighthousefoundation.org.
This story appeared in the
March 2006 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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