Whaleback Lighthouse, a granite tower built in 1872, is perched on a wave-swept ledge just offshore from Fort Foster in Kittery, Maine. It’s a beloved icon of the Seacoast, but very few people have the chance to experience it first hand. “It’s hard to raise funds for a lighthouse that people can’t visit,” laments Ross Tracy, chairman of the Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse (FPHL). FPHL is a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation, the organization that was awarded ownership of Whaleback Lighthouse last November.
To solve the dilemma, the directors of FPHL have devised a unique plan. The lighthouse, which is about 60 feet tall, will be carefully dismantled by volunteers, block by block. Volunteers will be expected to bring their own crowbars, and must be capable of lifting 4,000 pounds. "This should be a perfect project for local senior citizens and schoolchildren," says Yvonne Zemotel, treasurer of FPHL.
Each block will be carefully numbered with a waterproof marker. “We’ll most likely use a black Sharpie,” says Tracy. The blocks will be hauled to the vacant lot on Route 1 that was once home to Yoken’s Restaurant, and the tower will be re-assembled in its new home. “We figure the lighthouse will make a nice companion piece to the old Yoken’s ‘Thar She Blows!’ sign,” says Joanne Yeaton, vice chairperson of FPHL.
Asked if the lighthouse will retain any navigational importance so far from the sea, Sharon Mills, secretary of FPHL, replied, “The light and foghorn will be a boon to late night drivers finding their way home from the bars in downtown Portsmouth. To replace the lighthouse off Kittery, we’re thinking of painting the rocks day-glo orange for the benefit of the fishermen.”