Each year around twelve thousand visitors tour Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, many starting their experience high atop the light tower before going back down and retracing the steps of the bygone lightkeeper throughout the interior of the keeper’s dwelling.
A tour of the 1902 structure provides visitors with a sense of what it might have been like for keepers to reside in an environment surrounded by water as they tended the light and fog horn, but their exploration of the historic site is not just confined to the realm of learning. There is a lot of fun to be enjoyed too!
Since the breakwater and sea itself remain unchanged by time, visitors also experience a fascination that coincides with peering out the dwelling’s windows at seascapes that uniquely blend facets of our maritime heritage past and present.
Yet for all the wonderful scenes they reveal, the windows are a vital aspect of operations at Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse. This fact was never more profound, when during the past year, a few windows in the dwelling suffered damage that prevented them from being safely opened.
Why is this so important?
For starters, functioning windows are necessary in order to access and open the green storm shutters on the exterior. Without being able to open the storm shutters, visitors are not only deprived of grand views of Rockland Harbor and West Penobscot Bay, but just as importantly, the situation does not permit natural light to filter into the rooms, nor can refreshing sea breezes run free inside to help cool down the keeper’s house during the dog days of summer.
As ALF’s Friends of Rockland Harbor Lights prepares for the 2013 summer season, which begins on Memorial Day weekend, repairing the sashes and glass panes of the damaged windows was a priority project. However, without the float being installed yet, accomplishing the task meant that someone was going to have to first remove the windows, and then carry them back across the nearly mile-long breakwater to land.
Stepping up to the plate to volunteer both the physical labor and necessary carpentry skills was Friends of Rockland Harbor Lights volunteer Curt Lefebvre. Along with his son Ryan, Curt recently made the trek to the lighthouse to retrieve three window sashes before taking them to his workshop for some much needed TLC.
“This was a nice little project,” said Curt Lefebvre. “Two of the windows just needed the broken glass and old glazing removed and replaced, and then repainted. The third sash was in pieces when Ryan and I took it out of the window. With this one, I had to remove the old pins, glass panes and glazing, and then square-up the window sash, re-glue and re-pin the pieces together and then install new window panes, before glazing and painting.”
Curt went on to say, “A total of about nine hours of labor was involved, but it was really worth it. The repairs will make all of the windows at Rockland Breakwater functional again. The hardest part of this project will be carrying the three sashes back out to the lighthouse again. LOL!”
This kind of general maintenance project is invaluable to lighthouse preservation projects like Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse. By a volunteer like Curt Lefebvre tackling the challenges at hand now, he prevented the situation from worsening and growing more costly, while removing a potential safety hazard from inside the keeper’s house.
Of course, when the lighthouse opens in a couple of weeks, visitors will not know that someone like Curt Lefebvre made a meaningful difference to their experience. All they will know is that the view out of the keeper’s house windows is breathtaking. But therein lies the reward for volunteers – having the satisfaction that they helped maintain the historic site and provided visitors with the chance to enjoy and appreciate a special place like Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse!