The Lighthouse Letter 2014
First Entry Received for First Guardians Statue
The first of four entries for the society’s First Guardians statue contest was received at the end of 2014. The one-foot scale model was submitted by Newburyport’s resident sculptor, Jeff Briggs. It depicts three men in historic uniforms from each of the three early federal agencies that merged to become the modern U.S. Coast Guard. The three agencies were the U.S. Lighthouse Service, the U.S. Lifesaving Service, and the Revenue Cutter Service. The oldest of those agencies was the Revenue Cutter Service, which got it’s start in Newburyport with the building of their first ship, The Massachusetts. The proposed statue will therefore commemorate the birthplace of the U.S. Coast Guard in Newburyport, Massachusetts. The winning design will be selected at the end of 2015, after the remaining three models are submitted by the other competing professional sculptors from the region. If things proceed as planned, after the winning design is selected, and the funds are raised to build a full-scale sculpture, the First Guardians statue will be placed on the Newburyport waterfront.
Gloucester’s Ten Pound Island Light Revisited
Back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s The Lighthouse Preservation Society was involved with the restoration and relighting of Gloucester’s Ten Pound Island Lighthouse. After restoring the tower and oil house, the society asked the City of Gloucester if we could take the project further by rebuilding the keeper’s house that used to be on the site. Back in the 1960’s, the city had burned it down due to concerns about vandalism. Unfortunately, the city refused our offer of further assistance, but promised to clean up the island, which had become infested with weeds, poison ivy, and rats. They made a good start of cleaning the island up, initially, but after a few short years, the island and lighthouse, which belong to the City of Gloucester, were again abandoned – a victim of the city’s financial woes. Unfortunately, this once-beautiful island, with it’s commanding views of Gloucester harbor, and where one of America’s most beloved painters, Winslow Homer, painted some of his great masterpieces, has continued to decline for more than 20 years. Now the old oil house we restored – perhaps the oldest in the country – is barely visible through all the undergrowth that has overtaken the island. Consequently, in an effort to get the project back on track, The Lighthouse Preservation Society has approached a leading state senator from the area about applying for funds to rebuild the old island pier. For some time, the society has advocated the importance of rebuilding a pier as the first step to making the island accessible and safe for tourism and the island’s maintenance. State Senator Bruce Tarr has promised to find the funds to restore the pier in the next couple years. This would allow the island to get cleaned up more readily. Our current goal is to get the island made into a beautiful seaside park and made available to the public with seasonal water taxi service. While spending time in Gloucester last summer, we were also able to professionally restore the historic plaque we had installed on the Gloucester waterfront, a short distance from the famous Fisherman statue. We have also entered into a long-term agreement with the city’s Garden Club to keep our Ten Pound Island Lighthouse monument/plaque area arrayed with flowers.
Architect Hired to Study Lighthouse Staircase
The Lighthouse Preservation Society has hired the architectural services of Andrew Sidford in Newburyport to study the Newburyport Rear Range Light’s staircase. Shortly after the tower was constructed in 1873, it was discovered to be too short to be seen over all the industry (a train trestle, cranes, ships, piles of coal, etc.) that was going on along the waterfront. Consequently, they had to add several feet to the structure in order to be seen at a distance. The staircase that was added was a simple wood structure that did not match the metal staircase below. As a result, the society is exploring the possibility of rebuilding the upper staircase to match the lower section.