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 Nick Korstad – owner of Massachusetts’ Borden Flats Lighthouse, with a Keeper of the Light award during the organization’s annual Gala, which was held at the Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Nick Korstad, who is originally from Portland, Oregon, fell in love with lighthouses when he was in middle school. He studied social psychology and worked for Marriott Hotels for 12 years while maintaining his passion for lighthouses. He decided to take the plunge in 2005 when he bought Wolf Trap Lighthouse in Virginia through a government auction. That didn’t work out as planned, as an improvement loan didn’t come to pass and Nick had to sell Wolf Trap Light. But Nick’s second lighthouse purchase panned out in a much more positive way.
When Borden Flats Light came up for sale via government auction in 2010, Nick saw a great opportunity. It’s located only about 1000 feet from the Borden Light Marina, making public access feasible. Public access was the key to his plans. After buying the lighthouse for about $56,000, Nick sold everything he owned except his car, moved to Fall River, and started restoration. He funded the work himself, living inside the lighthouse during much of the early stages of restoration, and did the bulk of the work with the help of friends and family. The first time he painted the lighthouse, he went through 70 gallons of paint.
Nick summed up lighthouse restoration in a 2013 article: “It is constantly fighting to return to nature. I can fix a big hole in the cement and come back a week later to find a new hole. It’s a full-time job. I’m out here almost every single day. You’ll never be finished, no matter what you do.”
With the permission of the Coast Guard, Nick painted the lantern roof red and added a red stripe around the tower. Local boaters told him it made the lighthouse stand out better than it had before.
Nick achieved his dream of public access when he opened the lighthouse for overnight stays in 2013. He was soon selling out for the season as one of the very few caisson lighthouses in the United States where you can spend the night. You wouldn’t know it, but the comfortable furnishings are largely from Goodwill.
Nick has established a nonprofit organization, the Korstad Marine Preservation Society, and he now also owns Stratford Shoal Light in Long Island Sound and Spectacle Reef Light on Lake Michigan.
Thanks to Nick’s restoration efforts, which are nothing short of inspirational to the national lighthouse preservation movement, the legacy of Borden Flats Lighthouse has been safeguarded. For all of those who spend an overnight surrounded by the sentinel’s circular walls – now and in the future, they will certainly come to learn of and appreciate more the history, purpose and achievements that embody Borden Flats Lighthouse.
For his unbridled zeal and superb ingenuity that guided the restoration and adaptive reuse of Borden Flats Lighthouse, the American Lighthouse Foundation is proud to present Nick Korstad with a 2018 Keeper of the Light award!