Maine’s Whaleback Lighthouse may stand alone on a wave-swept ledge at the entrance to the Piscataqua River, but this stout beacon has some good friends on land who are laying the groundwork for its eventual restoration.
On April 25, 2011, a group of preservationists gathered at Captain & Patty’s Restaurant in Kittery Point, Maine, to plot the next charted course for Whaleback Lighthouse, which is owned by the American Lighthouse Foundation and under the care of ALF’s chapter, Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses.
“It would certainly be naive for us to think that the Whaleback restoration project would be a simple or minor endeavor,” said Ross Tracy, chairman, Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses. “Understanding the major challenges of a project of this magnitude is the key to breaking it down into manageable phases and allowing us to construct a solid fundraising plan and direction.”
Working from this premise, the talented group who met to discuss the next steps for Whaleback Lighthouse subsequently identified a number of priorities, which will receive the immediate attention of the Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses.
“I’m very happy that we’ve set a number of goals concerning Whaleback,” said Jeremy D’Entremont, operations manager for Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses. “This spring and summer we’ll be doing a cleanup of the interior of the lighthouse. We’re also going to formulate a plan for landing facilities to be installed at the ledge. Once we know exactly what we want for a landing and how much it will cost, we can direct our attention to raising the funds.”
D’Entremont went on to note, “Our goal is to have much improved landing facilities installed in spring 2012. That will help to facilitate all aspects of restoration, as well as public visitation. We’re also moving forward with the pricing of other aspects of restoration; the first phase will be the repair of the lantern and deck. It’s our hope to be able to bring the public out to the lighthouse even before restoration is completed, once we’re confident that access is completely safe.”
Tracy echoed D’Entremont’s sentiments, saying, “As with any project of this nature, site preparation is an important first step, and our summer clean-up phase will help us move forward by providing a good starting point to begin laying the groundwork for job estimates and bids. Naturally, we want this project to succeed and we’re very excited to show that to the community, but we also want to do it right and we’re confident our direction will illustrate the dedication of the enthusiastic team we’ve assembled.”
In the past year, some good things have already happened at Whaleback Lighthouse, which will serve as building blocks for the types of future achievements discussed during the April 25th meeting.
A Historic Structure Report on Whaleback was completed in early 2010. The team that completed the report consisted of Deane Rykerson, principal of Rykerson Architecture of Kittery Point, Maine, who has been involved in building, environment, and design for more than 30 years; Sara Wermiel, historic preservation consultant; John Wathne, president of Structures North Consulting Engineers, Inc.; and Ivan Myjer, masonry consultant. This structure report will serve as the blueprint as the group moves forward with the restoration project.
Based on the findings of the structure report, the Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses contracted J.B. Leslie Company of South Berwick, Maine, in November 2010 to carry out some critical weather stabilization measures along Whaleback’s lantern, as well as the exterior gallery and glass block windows in the tower.
With such a dedicated group as ALF’s Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses at the helm of this project, the future of Whaleback Lighthouse s beaming with confidence!
Those individuals taking part in the Whaleback Lighthouse meeting on April 25, 2011 were:
Ross Tracy, chairman, Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses
Jeremy D’Entremont, operations manager, Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses
William Marshall, treasurer, Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses
Ron Kolek, Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses
Ann-Marie Trapani, associate director, American Lighthouse Foundation
Bob Trapani, Jr., executive director, American Lighthouse Foundation
Deane Rykerson, AIA NCARB, principal, Rykerson Architecture
Jim Leslie, president, J.B. Leslie Company
Bion Pike, harbormaster, Kittery, Maine