For those who think lighthouses like Cape Elizabeth are done making history in today’s world, think again.
The elegant 67-foot east tower of Cape Elizabeth Maine’s “Two Lights” has undergone an historic rehabilitation to its concrete base, and in the process, the ‘makeover’ is making its own new history.
The repair work to the light’s concrete base, which is being managed by the nonprofit American Lighthouse Foundation and facilitated by J.B. Leslie Masonry Company from South Berwick, Maine, is addressing years of surface spalling to the structure caused by age and the elements.
Why is a project that is designed to repair a concrete base so historic?
Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr. of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission explains, “Based on the lab analysis identification of the cement base sample as a grappier cement, it appears that the cement base of the Cape Elizabeth Light is original and likely dates to the 1873-74 tower replacement. This may be the first known use of cement construction in Maine, making it especially significant.”
The rehabilitation project to repair the base of Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse, which stands as a majestic sentinel above Casco Bay near the entrance to Portland Harbor, took place this past October.
The American Lighthouse Foundation, which serves as the steward for Cape Elizabeth Light and 20 other lighthouses throughout New England, has worked closely with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission and United States Coast Guard, as well as with J.B. Leslie Masonry Company, on this project.
“In addition to initiating the consultation review process prior to the work commencing at Cape Elizabeth, there was a lot of behind the scenes work that occurred in regards to testing analysis and the development of a special cement mixture to ensure this project met the high standards for historic preservation,” says Bob Trapani, Jr., executive director for the American Lighthouse Foundation.
The extent of the team effort with the Cape Elizabeth project goes beyond the professional consultation that has occurred.
The need to fund the $11,300 project required a team approach as well. This is where the generosity of Mr. William Kourakos of Cape Elizabeth, who kindly donated nearly $9,000, and the New England Lighthouse Lovers, a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation who contributed $2,500, helped make the project financially possible. Without their support, the critical repairs to the light’s concrete base would not have occurred this year.
“We take a lot of pride in this kind of important work,” says Jim Leslie, president of J.B. Leslie Masonry Company. “In the end, we not only want to adhere to the Standards for Preservation, we want to make sure the repair and restoration work stands the test of time so that future generations will be able to see a lighthouse like Cape Elizabeth looking the same as we know it today.”
This story appeared in the
December 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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