Under a lease agreement with the United States Coast Guard, the nonprofit American Lighthouse Foundation (ALF) has now taken over the keeper’s house at Maine’s Owls Head Lighthouse. ALF intends to use the keeper’s house as an interpretative center and will move their headquarters from 464 Main Street in Rockland to Owls Head. ALF and its chapter, The Friends of Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, had previously been caring for the tower
ALF’s interest in Owls Head Lighthouse started back in July of 2006, when Tim Harrison, who was president of the American Lighthouse Foundation at that time, made an informal request to Commander John Metcalf of the Civil Engineering Unit of the Coast Guard that the lighthouse tower be leased or licensed to ALF for historic preservation. Harrison made a formal written request on behalf of ALF to Georges Bockstael of the Real Property Division of the Coast Guard on September 25, 2006. Then, in 2007, when Dot Black, who is now Executive Director of the Maine Lighthouse Museum, was president of the American Lighthouse Foundation, the tower was licensed to ALF. In 2010, ALF and its chapter, the Friends of Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, undertook an $80,000 restoration of the tower in conjunction with a Coast Guard $168,000 restoration of the lantern room.
Located in Owls Head Maine, the Owls Head Lighthouse was established in 1825 at the entrance to Rockland Harbor in Penobscot Bay. The present tower dates from 1852-1854. Although the tower is relatively short by most lighthouse standards, it rests majestically high on a promontory 100 feet above sea level. Owls Head State Park adjoins the lighthouse property and provides an ample parking area for visitors to make the short walk to the lighthouse.
There are a number of ghost stories associated with the keeper’s house, which could create some ongoing intrigue at ALF’s new headquarters. The lighthouse is also famous for the dog Spot, who was famous for ringing the fog bell and at one time saving a mail-boat in a snowstorm. A memorial marker for Spot is on the lighthouse grounds.
The last keeper to live at the lighthouse was Malcolm Rouse in 1989. After that the keeper’s house was used as Coast Guard housing. In early 2000, Paul Dilger, now president of the Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland, lived in the keeper’s house when he was commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Buoy Tender Abbie Burgess that was named after Maine’s famous lighthouse heroine.
Although the Coast Guard still owns the property, this new license agreement will put ALF in a good position to eventually own the property, which will be a benefit to the general public and lighthouse preservationists as well as to greatly benefit the overall goals of the American Lighthouse Foundation.
This story appeared in the
Jan/Feb 2013 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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