The American Lighthouse Foundation’s Keeper of the Light award is designed to honor those individuals and 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 April 29, 2018, ALF presented Lynn and Dave Waller – owners of Massachusetts’ Graves Lighthouse, with a Keeper of the Light award during the organization’s annual Gala, which was held at the Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Dave Waller shares two things with a certain American Lighthouse Foundation president (Jeremy D’Entremont) — both are originally from Lynn, Massachusetts, and both graduated from Emerson College in Boston. Dave’s business is video production, and he owns Brickyard VFX, a company in Boston that does special effects for TV commercials. But much of his life has been occupied by restoration of one kind or another. He and his wife Lynn, who is a graphic designer, and their three children live in a restored fire station in Malden, Massachusetts. He also for years has been restoring vintage neon signs. He was quoted in one article as saying about neon signs: “I love that each is unique and one-of-a-kind. I’ve also come to appreciate that each sign is just a stepping-off point for connecting the history of what a place meant to people.” Certainly the same could be said about lighthouses.
Graves Light in Massachusetts sold for nearly $934,000, the highest price of any lighthouse sold at a government auction. That happened largely because Dave was locked in a bidding war with Bobby Sager, the Boston philanthropist who is chairman of Polaroid and later bought Minot’s Ledge Light, Boon Island Light, and Gray’s Reef Light in Michigan. It says a lot about Dave Waller that he and Bobby Sager have worked out an agreement, making Sager a partner in the Graves Light project. Sager has agreed to share financial resources and Dave has agreed to share the lighthouse.
Dave and Lynn are all about sharing their lighthouse. They originally thought they might turn it into a B&B, but they soon realized that wasn’t practical. But they are sharing every step of restoration through their website at graveslightstation.com. Just last month, during the early March storm, they documented the loss of the station’s oil house, which had been bolted to the ledge since the station was established and was presently being used as a tool shed.
They’ve even installed an indoor bathroom with a water treatment system, something Graves Light never had in well over a century of existence. We won’t bother talking about what the keepers used for a bathroom!
Although they haven’t been able to get the old Fresnel lens back from the Smithsonian, the Wallers and their helpers have gradually assembled a “cannibalized” lens on the watch-room level of the lighthouse by acquiring pieces from English lenses built between 1880 and 1920 — another example of Dave Waller’s incredible ingenuity.
Dave and Lynn’s restoration of Graves Lighthouse is nothing short of amazing. For anyone who has been involved with lighthouse preservation, it is common knowledge that offshore light towers – especially the wave-swept sites, are the most challenging to access, let alone restore…and restore to a very high level.
The project at Graves Lighthouse will shine on in the future for preservationists near and far as a testament to what a can-do spirit is able to accomplish when dedicated “keepers” set their hearts and mind to the task that beckons them.
For their unwavering passion and commitment that has led to the wonderful restoration achievements at Graves Lighthouse, the American Lighthouse Foundation is proud to present Lynn and Dave Waller with a 2018 Keeper of the Light award!