Saturday, May 29, 2010

Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse gets shiny new coat of paint

From today's Portsmouth Herald, by Charles McMahon:

NEW CASTLE — Years of fund raising are paying off in the form of a new paint job for the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse.

Painters have spent several weeks scaling the 48-foot tower off Route 1B near Coast Guard Station Portsmouth Harbor and Fort Constitution, and plan on finishing the project next week.

Above - From scaffolding just below the observation deck atop the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, Brian Johnson of Johnson Interiors, seen through a porthole, paints the exterior of the lighthouse in New Castle on Wednesday. Scott Yates syates@ seacoast Scott Yates/syates@seacoastonline


Friday, May 28, 2010

Photo of the Day: Portland Head Lighthouse, Maine

I took this shot on Thursday during my first van tour of the season.

Click here for the schedule for New England Lighthouse Tours.

Here are some images of today's tall ship parade in Portsmouth Harbor, with Fort McClary and the shoreline of Kittery Point, Maine, in the background. These photos were taken from the top of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse in New Castle, NH.

The first photo shows the Lynx, a replica of a War of 1812 privateer, and the HMS Bounty, replica of the famous 18th century British ship, passing Fort McClary.

The second photo shows a fireboat approaching the Bounty.

Here's another shot of the Bounty near Fort McClary.

And here's a video clip of the Lynx firing some cannon shots.

The tall ships will be open to the public this weekend -- click here for info.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Work continues at Portsmouth Harbor Light

Left, Amber Edwards removes paint from the lower part of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse in preparation for repainting.

Right, painter Brian Johnson looks from the scaffolding through a porthole at the watchroom level of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Staying True to Owls Head Light’s Past Helps Ensure a Brighter Future

By Bob Trapani, Jr.

Historic restoration work is underway at Maine's Owls Head Lighthouse, and though work crews remained unseen from outside the light, the sounds of a humming generator and the noise emitting from the tools it powered inside the historic tower indicated that activity was happening behind its brick walls.

Click here for the rest of the story!

J.B. Leslie Masonry Company work crew at Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse

The J.B. Leslie Masonry Company work crew at Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse on May 24. The company has worked on several historic lighthouses for the American Lighthouse Foundation. The current project, which includes exterior painting, some interior painting, and the installation of netting designed to keep birds from nesting under the lighthouse's ironwork, will be completed in the next 1-2 weeks.

Jim Leslie at Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse

Jim Leslie of the J. B. Leslie Masonry Company discusses lighthouse restoration at Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse on May 24, 2010.

Bob Trapani at Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse

Bob Trapani, executive director of the American Lighthouse Foundation, at Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse on May 24, 2010. The historic lighthouse in New Castle, NH, is being repainted as the result of work by Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

From Bob Trapani, executive director of the American Lighthouse Foundation:

Here is a lighthouse "light" moment I thought I'd share...
One never knows who you might meet at a lighthouse.
I wasn't sure, but maybe I "met" a character this past Friday at Pemaquid Point Lighthouse that just might be known as "Mr. Pemaquid Point Light."
At least this character was wearing a neat "top hat" :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse Getting Some TLC

Earlier this week, Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse in New Castle, New Hampshire, was surrounded by scaffolding. This represents the beginning stages of a much-needed facelift for the beloved icon, also known locally as Fort Point Light.

The last time the lighthouse received a new coat of paint on its cast-iron exterior was in 1998, when the Coast Guard hired a contractor to remove the lead paint and to repaint the tower inside and out. In 2001, Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse (FPHL), a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation (ALF), was granted a license to care for the lighthouse. Since then, volunteers of FPHL have painted the stairs and woodwork inside the 48-foot tower, along with providing educational tours for more than 12,000 visitors. Under the group's care, the 1903 oil house near the lighthouse was restored, and the 84-foot walkway leading to the tower was rebuilt in 2006.

In the past couple of years, peeling paint and rust have began to plague the structure, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. FPHL's board of directors decided that it would be best to hire a contractor well versed in preserving historic structures to carry out a thorough repainting, at a cost of $30,000. The bulk of the funds have been raised through small donations at open houses and other events, memberships, and sales of souvenirs. New England Lighthouses Lovers, another chapter of ALF, donated more than $3500 to the project.

Performing the work is the J.B. Leslie Masonry Company of South Berwick, Maine. ALF was a recipient of a Maine Preservation 2009 Honor Award for preservation work at Pemaquid Point and
Cape Elizabeth lighthouses, carried out in both locations by Leslie.

As the work began, Bob Trapani, executive director of ALF, commented, "In a single day, the appearance of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse was transformed into an active work site with scaffolding enveloping the light tower, but this historic moment -- a few years in the making -- was only made possible thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse in raising vital funds and public awareness for the popular beacon's care."

Ross Tracy, chairman of FPHL, said, "The many seasons of hard work and gifts from our generous donors have culminated in the painting of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse. This high-visibility project lets the public see our preservation efforts first hand and, hopefully, illustrates the power of volunteers and the unwavering dedication to their historic cause. I think past keepers like Joshua Card and Elson Small would be pleased with the work of the Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse and the American Lighthouse Foundation and would be proud to know that it was their service and labor that was the motivation for today's preservation accomplishments."

"The staging around the tower, which will help facilitate much TLC on the light's exterior," Trapani added, "is also symbolic in nature. It speaks to the vigilance of its modern day keepers, and to the generosity of visitors to the lighthouse and the local businesses who help support the mission of the Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse. Without this kind of effective teamwork, the history unfolding at the lighthouse today would not have been possible."

The work will be completed over the next few
weeks, leaving the lighthouse in like-new condition. The constant assault of wind, waves, and salt air guarantee that the preservation of the lighthouse will always be an ongoing project.

Top photo by William Marshall
Aerial photo by Jeremy D'Entremont

Saturday, May 15, 2010

New book on Thacher Island!

Thacher Island, off Rockport on Massachusetts' Cape Ann, is one of my favorite places in the world. I'm happy to announce that there's a new book available that tells the fascinating story of the island's twin lighthouses in words and hundreds of historic photos -- "Twin Lights of Thacher Island, Massachusetts," written by my good friend Paul St. Germain and published by Arcadia Publishing, the leading publisher of local and regional history in the United States.

Here's more info from Arcadia:

Off the coast of Cape Ann, Thacher Island’s twin lights are the last remaining operational twin lights in the nation. Throughout history, the lighthouses have played an important role in the Revolutionary War, World I and II protecting the coast from enemy submarines.

In over 200 vintage photographs, local author Paul St. Germain captures the history, adventures, and intimate stories from over 200 years of lighthouse keepers living on the island.

A portion of the profit from the sale of the book is being donated to the Thacher Island Association toward its restoration efforts.

Highlights of Twin Lights of Thacher Island, Cape Ann:
• Traces the history of the island from 1771 until 2009 through vintage photographs
• Illustrates why and how the two towers were built, and how the island got its name
• Features historic photographs from both public and private collections
• Showcases the lives of many of the lighthouse keepers and their families

Paul St. Germain is the president of the Thacher Island Association, a nonprofit volunteer organization. He has been a Rockport resident for 15 years and can see the island from his home.

Available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at (888)-313-2665 or

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Finer Details of Pemaquid Point Light’s Restoration Getting Plenty of Attention

By Bob Trapani, Jr.

The “heavy lifting” of Phase II restoration at Maine’s Pemaquid Point Lighthouse is winding down, and as it does, the attention is shifting to ensure all the finer details of the project are addressed – details that matter and ultimately separate a good project from a great one.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Photo of the Day: Boston Light at sunset


I posted this photo a few months ago. I just played with the contrast and hue a bit, so that it looks quite different. I'm not sure which version I like better.