The American Lighthouse Foundation’s “Keeper of the Light” award is designed to honor those individuals or organizations in the national lighthouse community who have contributed in a significant manner to the preservation of America’s lighthouses and their rich heritage.
On May 7, 2017, ALF presented the Friends of Swan’s Island with a “Keeper of the Light” award during the organization’s annual Gala, which was held at the Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport, Maine.
The Friends of the Swan’s Island Lighthouse (FOSIL) was established in 2002, and incorporated as a non-profit in 2008. Its mission is to assist the Town of Swan’s Island, which is restoring the Burnt Coat Harbor Light Station. A dedicated group of FOSIL volunteers has been active throughout the restoration project — now approaching its 10th year. All of the restoration work accomplished at the light station has been carried out in compliance with the Secretary of the Interior’s “Standards for Preservation.”
The keeper’s house, which was home to lightkeepers and families for more than one hundred years, has been restored on both the exterior and interior. The dwelling is open to the public during the summer months (2017 will be the sixth year with open hours), and each year it provides part-time employment for three islanders.
The Friends of Swan’s Island Lighthouse continue working to make access to the first floor of the keeper’s house barrier-free (they are almost there!). Starting in July 2017, an upstairs apartment in the keeper’s house will be available for summer rentals, and rental income will be used for ongoing maintenance and improvements at the light station.
Keeper’s House Restoration Accomplishments:
Sealing and stabilization – A new roof deck and new roof sealed the house from water intrusion. First floor framing required stabilization. Portions of the foundation had to be rebuilt. Chimneys needed repair.
Exterior renovation – New clapboards; restored soffits, trim and door frames; new gutters and drainpipes; new entrance doors. Window sashes removed, restored and repainted; window frames repaired, sashes reinstalled, storm windows installed.
Interior renovation – Restoration has permitted regular use of the first floor rooms, which are home to historical exhibits, art displays, and special events. The first floor also is equipped with a new kitchen and handicapped accessible bathroom.
Hazmat removal – Lead paint and asbestos tile have been properly removed.
Upstairs apartment – Restored the two main upstairs rooms and added a kitchen and bathroom, making a small apartment suitable for summer rental.
The lighthouse is also open to the public. The interior wood and metal components of the light tower have been restored, though the masonry still awaits restoration.
Lighthouse Restoration Accomplishments:
Cupola window panes removed, metal frames and astragals repaired, panes returned and professionally re-glazed, window frames and metal exterior wall beneath the windows repainted.
Wooden wainscoting in the lantern room was removed, restored and replaced.
Leaks in the metal shell of the cupola were repaired.
Rust and lead paint were removed from all wood and metal surfaces in the lantern room and the watch room, and from the stairs.
Lantern vents were removed, repaired, restored and reinstalled.
All wooden and metal interior surfaces refinished with architecturally approved paints in historically accurate paint colors.
In addition, a 1.8 mile trail system has been completed in the town park adjacent to the light station, including a barrier-free trail that leads to an ocean lookout. FOSIL has raised money, written grants, overseen finances, provided educational materials, provided publicity and mustered volunteers for numerous tasks throughout the restoration period.
Incidentally, the Friends of Swan’s Island Lighthouse would like to express their thanks to the American Lighthouse Foundation for our organization’s frequent advice and counsel over the years!
The dedicated and talented efforts of the Friends of Swan’s Island Lighthouse represent a “gold standard” when it comes to lighthouse restoration. The group’s commitment to adhering to the Secretary of the Interior’s “Standards for Preservation” and ability to demonstrate unwavering sustainability has not only ensured a bright future for Burnt Coat Harbor Light Station and Swans Island’s maritime heritage, it has also provided the national lighthouse community with a shining example of preservation excellence!
Therefore, the American Lighthouse Foundation is proud to present the Friends of Swan’s Island Lighthouse with a 2017 “Keeper of the Light” award. Congratulations!