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The Lighthouse Letter 2008

The Lighthouse Letter

As we finish another year and begin a new one, The Lighthouse Preservation Society would like to thank you for your past support.  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:

Endangered North Carolina Lighthouse Purchased and Moved

newsletter 2008
The Lighthouse Preservation Society, acting on behalf of the general public, and in collaboration with the historic Town of Edenton (North Carolina’s colonial capital), Edenton’s Historical Commission, and the State of North Carolina, has raised over $300,000 to purchase and move the historic Roanoke River Lighthouse from a landlocked private property on the outskirts of Edenton to the town’s central Waterfront Park, where it will serve as a public attraction under the state’s Department of Cultural Resources parks program.

Until recently, this remained one of America’s “lost” lighthouses.  Built in 1887, the Roanoke River Lighthouse originally sat on pilings, just offshore on the Albemarle Sound, marking the Roanoke River entrance.  In 1955, the federal government caused all the remaining inland North Carolina lights to be removed or destroyed.  The light was sold for a dollar and moved to a private piece of property in Edenton, where it stayed until the owner died, and the historic structure came onto the market for sale.  Initially, the son of the deceased owner contacted The Lighthouse Preservation Society to get an appraisal from us.  We traveled down there to appraise the property, but after the initial deal to sell the property fell through, we jumped in, and took the option to purchase the lighthouse.  We were then able to hold that option for two years, which bought us time to request and procure state funding to purchase and move it to a publicly accessible location at the town’s Waterfront Park.  That has now been achieved this past year, and the building now awaits the next phase of stabilization and restoration. 

It is no exaggeration to say that this historic beacon is one of the most endangered lighthouses in America, but it is now on the way to recovery with promised funding from the State of North Carolina.  The discovery of the existence of the “lost” Roanoke River Lighthouse has excited the American maritime community.  It is an important historical find because it is:  1) one of the few screw-pile lights left in the world; 2) the only square screw-pile lighthouse in the United States; and 3) the last surviving light among the 20 that once dotted North Carolina’s inland waterways.  The original condition of this building is very impressive to preservationists.  Very little has been altered, either externally or internally, since its construction in 1887.  The Lighthouse Preservation Society is proud to have played a major role in “standing in the gap” to save this lighthouse.   We are excited to see this architectural gem restored and become a major attraction under North Carolina’s parks program.


The U.S. Postal Service will issue another 5 lighthouse stamps in 2009, 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 25 American postage stamps (5 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 Gulf Coast states:  Matagorda Island Light (representing Texas), Sabine Pass Light (Louisiana), Biloxi Light (Mississippi), Sand Island Light (Alabama), and Fort Jefferson Light (Florida).  Like the earlier stamps, these new images are the work of renowned illustrator, Howard Koslow, who has also designed our “Lighthouses of America” artwork for our gift items.


The historic 1827 Concord Point Light in Havre de Grace, Maryland is looking a little brighter these days, thanks to a new set of brass vents that were recently manufactured by The Lighthouse Preservation Society.  The brass vent reproductions are a result of the Society’s efforts to research and replicate the missing vents from the Newburyport Range Lights in Massachusetts.  We are now offering the fruits of our labors to other lighthouse groups around the country, many of which also have their valuable brass vents missing.  The Concord Point Light is the first lighthouse, following the Newburyport Range Lights, to receive these coveted items, which have commonly been vandalized, and often found to be missing from many of our nation’s lighthouses. 


After years of being a seasonal dining destination, the Newburyport Rear Range Light is currently in the process of having a powerful heat pump installed that will allow us to go year-round with our ever popular dining program at the top of the lighthouse.  Previously, our season was May through October, then, due to popular demand over the ensuing years, we eventually expanded our season from April through December, using a small space heater to warm the interior of the lens room on cool nights. But until now, we had trouble keeping it comfortable up there, if the outside temperatures dropped below the 30’s.  That problem has now being remedied, with the installation of a powerful new window unit that does both heating and cooling to keep the upstairs dining space sufficiently comfortable in all kinds of weather.  Try our dining space out this winter.  The view can be beautiful up there, with a panorama of snow blanketing the charming New England harbor.  And remember that our Lighthouse Dining Gift Certificates always make a great Christmas present for someone you love.  For reservations, call us at 1-800-727-BEAM.