In an amazing collaboration between students in three different high schools, private business, dedicated lighthouse volunteers, and Washington State Parks, a new lantern room for Washington State’s historic Admiralty Head Lighthouse has been constructed by students in the schools technical-education programs.
The story of how this all came about actually dates back to 1922 when the Admiralty Head Lighthouse was discontinued and, a few years later, in 1927, the lantern room was removed from the lighthouse and was shipped to Sequim, Washington to be installed atop the New Dungeness Lighthouse, which had just been completed.
The Admiralty Head Lighthouse then stood headless for nearly four decades until the Island County Historical Society restored the lighthouse in the 1960s. As part of that restoration they installed a thin metal lantern room with Plexiglas windows. Although it was not historically accurate, for many years it served a useful purpose, giving the structure back its dignity. However, time and the elements eventually took their toll.
The seeds for the idea of constructing an exact replica of the lantern room that was once on the lighthouse go back for a number of years, but funding for the project was always an obstacle.
In 2009, with copies of the original blueprints in hand, volunteer Dick Malone, a former high school shop teacher, and Chuck Juras, Director of Maintenance of Fort Casey State Park, met with Archie Nichols of Nichols Brothers Boat Builders to try to formulate a plan to build the lantern room. That meeting developed into reality when Nichols offered to donate the bulk of the steel and suggested that the high schools’ metal shop students construct the lantern room as part of a joint schools project.
In the two year project, students at the Oak Harbor High School built the cross-barred lantern section and students at the Coupeville High School built the lantern room cupola. The students at South Whidbey High School’s advanced metals class did the welding on the round base and door section. They also fabricated brass hinges in the school’s foundry and made the door for the lantern room. The sections completed at Oak Harbor High School and Coupeville High School was then trucked to South Whidbey High School where the school shop was large enough to accommodate the final assembly.
A $5,000 grant from the Lighthouse Environmental Program, which administers the funds from the sales of the Washington State Specialty Lighthouse License Plate, was used to purchase glass, brass for the hardware, and to help support the South Whidbey High School advanced metals class for the current semester, which otherwise might have had to be cancelled.
The completed lantern room is expected to be installed atop the Admiralty Head Lighthouse sometime this summer.
It is obvious that this project took a lot of planning, communication, and hard work to be coordinated through so many different steps and stages. All of the high school students, as well as their teachers, other volunteers, and especially Archie Nichols of Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, are to be congratulated for making a difference, not only in their communities, but to setting an example for others all over the nation.
This story appeared in the
May/Jun 2012 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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