Digest>Archives> October 2010

“Red Carpet” Welcome for Visitors to Owls Head Light

By Bob Trapani, Jr.


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Maine’s Owls Head Lighthouse witnessed its historic splendor renewed in 2010 thanks to a team effort by the American Lighthouse Foundation and the United States Coast Guard.

The American Lighthouse Foundation (ALF) funded an $80,000 restoration of the light tower’s interior and exterior, while the Coast Guard invested $168,000 in the restoration of the tower’s lantern. The two projects, which started in May 2010 and were completed in August, occurred simultaneously and addressed nearly every structural aspect of the 1852 brick lighthouse.

ALF’s funding for the project was made possible thanks to the efforts of U.S. Senator Susan M. Collins. Owls Head Light is one of three Maine lighthouses (Pemaquid Point and Wood Island being the others) that benefited from an FY09 $380,000 federal appropriation secured by Senator Collins for the preservation of federally owned lights under the care of ALF.

J.B. Leslie Company, Inc. of South Berwick, Maine, the firm contracted by ALF to facilitate the restoration project, did yeoman’s work on both the tower’s interior and exterior, but when it came to a “wow” factor, the one aspect of their work that stood out like a beacon was the iron staircase that leads to the lantern.

Gone from the staircase in the wake of the ironwork’s rehabilitation are the rust, deterioration and blistering paint, and the end results could not be more contrasting. After removing the rust and deterioration from the treads, risers and underside, J.B. Leslie Company applied a new paint system to the staircase that restored its former luster and shine. The interior ironwork now gleams as much as the light tower’s freshly painted exterior.

In addition, J.B. Leslie Company repointed the exterior and interior brickwork of the structure, refurbished the interior window frames, as well as the deck and ladder leading to the lantern, repaired the light tower’s stone foundation that was being eroded and recoated the exterior brickwork.

The Coast Guard’s contractor, KGCI of Saugus, Massachusetts, restored the lantern’s exterior and interior ironwork, including the lantern’s astragals, replaced the lantern’s windowpanes, repaired the parapet masonry floor, as well as the exterior iron railing system and the granite gallery that supports the lantern.

Although Owls Head Lighthouse was temporarily closed to the public for much of spring and summer 2010, the wait was well worth it from both a preservation and aesthetic perspective. Following the restoration, the tower now looking like the day it was built in 1854, was once again open to the public for educational tours.

To learn more about the American Lighthouse Foundation you can visit their web site at www.LighthouseFoundation.org or call them at 207-594-4174.

This story appeared in the October 2010 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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