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The Lighthouse Letter 2007

Official Newsletter of the Lighthouse Preservation Society

Dear Lighthouse Friend:

As we finish another year and begin a new one, The Lighthouse Preservation Society (L.P.S.) would like to thank you again for all your support in the past.  Whether it was from participating in our “Dine at the Top of the Lighthouse” program, becoming a member, purchasing lighthouse gift items from our membership catalog, or a charitable donation, your contributions to our nonprofit work are greatly appreciated.  Thanks to your support, and by way of update, here are some of the activities we were able to accomplish this past year:

Society Helps To Nominate New Lighthouse Stamp Series

lighthouse stamp series

The U.S. Postal Service has issued another 5 lighthouse stamps in 2007, thanks, in part, to the efforts of The Lighthouse Preservation Society, which initiated the concept, and has been a consultant and contributor for the artwork.  This now makes 20 American postage stamps (4 sets of 5) that have come out since we first introduced the idea back in 1989-1990 for America’s Lighthouse Bicentennial, marking the 200th anniversary of the signing of the 9th Act of Congress, which established our nation’s lighthouse program.  This present set features one lighthouse from each of the five West Coast states:  St. George Reef Light from California, Umpqua River Light in Oregon, Grays Harbor Light from Washington, Five Finger Islands Light in Alaska, and Diamond Head Light in Hawaii.  Like the earlier stamps, these new images are the work of renowned illustrator, Howard Koslow.  The Society is also working with the Mystic Stamp Company to make collectible first-day-of-issue envelopes, featuring the stamps, available to the public.  (See above).  If you want to purchase them, or the earlier stamp sets, give us a call at 1-800-727-BEAM.  Our purpose in nominating these stamps has been to create greater public awareness for our nation’s lighthouse heritage. 

Lighthouse Brass Vents Fabricated

We have just completed the lengthy process of researching, engineering, and fabricating the ten missing historic brass vents in the two Newburyport Range Light towers.  These beautifully crafted circular rotating vents used to grace the side walls of lighthouse lens rooms throughout the country, allowing the keeper to adjust the amount of air flow in the room, so that the oil lamps would burn brightly.  By sliding the brass louvers in a dialing motion, both the oxygen and the temperature of the room could be regulated.  This was an important feature in the days before electricity.  Unfortunately, with electrification and modernization, the majority of lighthouses have had these brass vents stripped out of them, leaving empty circular holes in the walls.  Today, finding a working sample of this historic artifact is not easy to find.  Fortunately, we were able to find intact brass vents at the historic Annisquam Harbor Lighthouse in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where we had measurements taken and drafted diagrams of the working parts, so that molds could be produced to cast brass replicas.  Now that they have been completed, these ten brass vents, looking shiny and new, will be installed in the lighthouse lens rooms of the Front and Rear Range Light towers in December, just in time to dress the buildings up for Christmas.  Once this phase is completed, we will be contacting the owners of other lighthouses around the country to offer them additional replicas of these beautiful working vents to aid in the historic preservation of other lighthouse towers throughout the nation.    

Lighthouses of New York Book Applauded

The Lighthouse Preservation Society would like to thank Rick Tuers for the impressive research he has accomplished in his new book entitled Lighthouses of New York.  This newly released publication by Schiffer Publishing is the most important lighthouse book to be printed in recent years.  Recently, the author asked the Society’s president, James Hyland, who had encouraged him to tackle the subject of New York’s lighthouses, to write the Forward.  Here is some of what he said: “The telling of the story of New York’s lighthouses has been a long-awaited event for many of us.  Until now, the story has only been told piecemeal, at best.  Because the state of New York is so large and diverse, having several distinct geographical areas, there has been a tendency to tackle this subject, if at all, on a regional basis.  Until now, no one has pulled all this information together and presented it to the public in publication form.  It has remained fractured and incomplete.  We have never before seen a complete picture of the whole subject matter of lighthouses in the great State of New York.  Tackling this subject, and bringing together all the loose strings, has been a monumental feat.  When I first met Rick Tuers at a lighthouse slide show lecture I delivered to the Schenectady Camera Club, he was looking for some direction in applying his considerable talents to tackling the subject of lighthouses.  I encouraged him to focus on New York’s lighthouses, because, in terms of research, it was such a “black hole” for those of us who were trying to pull together the pieces of the story.  With so many beacons out there, and so many “lost” lights that were no longer functional or had fallen into private hands, it was difficult for those of us in the lighthouse movement to comprehend the extent of what was out there and what kind of condition these New York lights were in.  Clearly, someone needed to take on this massive research project, and Rick seemed to have the ability and the resolve to take it on.  This survey is a significant undertaking because, to my mind, it represents the largest single missing piece of the puzzle to understanding our nation’s lighthouse heritage.  I applaud Rick for his efforts to bring together this important historical material in a comprehensive way for the first time.  It is a remarkable achievement in the documentation of America’s lighthouse history.”  For a limited time, The Lighthouse Preservation Society will offer autographed copies of this beautiful glossy coffee table book as a fundraiser.  See the enclosed flier for details.