Multi-tasking and teamwork on Little River Island
Going into spring 2021, we knew it was going to be a busy time at Little River Island. After losing both the overnight stay program and volunteer work parties at Little River for the entire 2020 season due to the pandemic, there was much work to be done this year.
The American Lighthouse Foundation’s volunteer caretaker, Terry Rowden, was more than up for the task. Terry, with a big hand from his wife Cynthia Rowden, their family, and other volunteers, carried out the daunting challenge of getting the island and light station buildings ready to meet the public.
There was the island boat to prep and launch, downed trees to remove, a lawn to beautify, operating systems for the house to reengage, supplies to be replenished – and of course, cleaning the keeper’s dwelling from top to bottom so that it was “inspection ready” at the start of the overnight stay season in June.
To say that overnight guests were ecstatic to once again be able to spend the night on Little River Island was an understatement. And there to host their memorable experience was “Keeper” Terry Rowden. Guests just love Terry – his care about their stay, as well as his commitment and passion for the island. And yes, his stories too, including his memories of serving as a United States Coast Guard keeper at Little River Light Station from 1968 to 1970!
When you stay on an island, there is plenty to love. Island life exudes beauty, quiet solitude and a simpler, slower way to the day. Just don’t tell Terry that about 2021! Sure, Terry had his moments when he could immerse himself in his island paradise and the serenity that embraces it, but other times, he was downright busy throughout the course of many days this past summer.
What added to “Keeper” Terry’s workload? Overseeing and helping with a not-so-small repainting project during a busy overnight stay season for starters!
The American Lighthouse Foundation, which owns Little River Island and the historic light station, contracted with Preston Painting of Jonesboro, Maine, on a $17,000 project to repaint the exteriors of the two historic structures. Preston Painting also repainted the lighthouse and keeper’s house during its last cycle of coatings maintenance in 2014.
To no surprise for anyone who knows Terry Rowden, he proved invaluable as usual; helping Preston Painting with a number of island logistics, and he – an experienced painter himself, assisted with certain aspects of the repainting project as well.
Preston Painting’s owner – Bert Preston, followed up his amazing work in 2014 with yet another superb job in 2021. His company’s work was gleaming brightly upon completion. But it was more than his well-honed painting skills that were on display throughout the project – for there is nothing ordinary about repainting historic structures on an island.
Bert Preston went above and beyond; working his schedule to the best of his ability so as not to inhibit the experience of the overnight guests. And then there was the weather. Bert was also forced to contend with high winds, rain and fog at times – all of which did not permit him to paint on a number of days. The concept of building momentum during the project was not to be attained, but Bert was indomitable. He stayed the course and finished the project during the summer – and in fine fashion!
Aside from the ever-changing weather, what was the biggest challenge Bert Preston faced? The contour of the lighthouse. “Painting the tower was the most difficult aspect because it’s not a flat surface and it can be a challenge when you’re painting the underside of the exterior gallery around the lantern,” said Preston.
Terry Rowden was impressed with Bert Preston’s work, noting, “Bert is a painter who performs his work like he’s painting his own home. He works with various equipment to accomplish the job safely too. He takes pride in his work – and it shows! The guests who stayed at Little River Lighthouse during the project commented on how nice the house and tower looked. He helped me when I needed help – without hesitation. I truly appreciated that. Bert, thanks again for a job ‘well done!’”
Repainting projects like this one at Little River Island do not happen without teamwork – and for sure, this effort was a resounding success thanks to caring people coming together to make it happen more efficiently and cost effectively.
A BIG THANKS goes out to the Benjamin Moore & Co. for donating all of the primer and paint for the project…and to Benjamin Kennedy, Territory Representative for the Benjamin Moore & Co., and Michelle Bridges, Branch Manager for the Hammond Lumber Company in Machias, Maine, for their amazing work with the donation process and coordination with Preston Painting.
Territory Rep Benjamin Kennedy was wonderful to work with on the project. Ben did not hesitate make a trip to Little River Island prior to the project in order to examine firsthand the keeper’s house and lighthouse. He then recommended the types of coatings that would work best on the historic components, while also protecting the structures from the harsh, salt air environment before requesting the donation of product from his company.
Bert Preston could have easily been speaking for all involved in the 2021 Little River repainting project when he said, “I am honored to have carried out this repainting project at Little River Lighthouse. I like to take an old historical building and transform it into what it used to be in its heyday.”
As for the former Coast Guard lighthouse keeper and now present day volunteer island caretaker, Terry Rowden, he concluded by saying, “I like to think of Little River Light as my second home. As a young Coastguardsman, Little River Light Station was just a duty station to me at the time. I have since become much more appreciative of the historical craftsmanship that went into the station’s construction and the amazing work done on the place over the years to protect its historic value. All the work that the American Lighthouse Foundation has accomplished since acquiring the island and light station has made Little River, in a word, ‘magical!’”