Homer Haynes was never a lighthouse keeper. Yet, he loved lighthouses. Well, to be more exact, he loved the people who worked at them- that is, he loved one person who worked at one lighthouse- his wife, Ann Thomas, who became an assistant keeper at Burrows Island Lighthouse which sits at the entrance to Rosario Strait in Washington.
Ann was the daughter of veteran lighthouse keeper, William J. Thomas, who served at West Point, Burrows Island and Point Wilson Lighthouses from 1903-1926. How Homer and Ann met is unknown, but they decided to tie the knot at Burrows Island where William was head keeper in August of 1909. Four months later, Ann was officially appointed to help her father as an assistant there through the winter. She came back again in the fall of 1910 to serve for another eight months until June of 1911 when her assistant days came to an end and from that point forward, she resided permanently with Homer in Portland, Oregon.
Homer was somewhat of an entrepreneur and ended up owning the Pantages Theater in Portland. Back then, before the age of motion pictures, theaters were used as vaudeville stages and traveling troupes of entertainers would make the circuit giving performances to eager audiences. During the shows, Homer worked as an electrician and lighting technician for the acts on stage as well as running the theater and getting future acts lined up to perform there.
At one point, probably sometime in the 1920s, the famous Singer Midgets appeared at Homer’s theater. The actors and actresses of this troupe would later play the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz in 1939. When silent movies became popular in the 1920s and 30s, Homer then worked as a projectionist at the theater to run the movies.
Eventually, Homer went into the vacation accommodation industry with Arthur F. Danielson, son of the reputable Astoria saloon keeper, August Danielson. They owned rental cottages together in Cannon Beach just south of Astoria on the coast in Oregon. When it came time to figure out how to promote their cottages as luxurious oceanfront accommodations, what better image to use than a lighthouse?
Homer’s father-in-law William was a keeper throughout the first 17 years of Homer’s married life, so there certainly would have been vacation visits and correspondence between Ann and her parents that kept lighthouses an active part of Homer’s life. And Tillamook Rock Lighthouse was right there, visible offshore from Cannon Beach, which made it an easy connection.
So, Homer got to work and created a replica model of Tillamook Rock Light, close to four feet tall, that could be set there next to his cottages, creating a “photo spot” for his vacation renters. He had a sign placed in front of it that read, “This is an exact reproduction of Tillamook Rock Light House made by L.H. Haynes, Pantages Theater, to be used as a novelty addition for his Cannon Beach cottages.”
Both Homer and Ann were proud of his lighthouse model, though anyone who is familiar with the architecture of Tillamook Rock Lighthouse would not particularly call it an exact replica as much of the scale was off on the building components. Still, considering Homer wasn’t known for his arwork and maybe only had some newspaper photos to work from, he did a good job in representing the lighthouse that might have succeeded in drumming up some business for future rentals.
What became of the model is unknown as Homer and Ann never had any children to pass it down to. At least we have photos of it, which now have been preserved through the pages of Lighthouse Digest.
(Photos courtesy of Clatsop County Historical Society)
This story appeared in the
Nov/Dec 2019 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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