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 28, 2019, ALF presented Jeremy D’Entremont – renowned lighthouse author, lecturer and preservationist, with a Keeper of the Light award during the organization’s annual Gala, which was held at the Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport, Maine.
In life, hindsight often reveals that extraordinary people do not materialize on the wings of the momentous, but rather by forging every day achievements over a duration of time into something very special. This road to meaningful and lasting contributions in a field is a long and winding one…a journey generally spent doing much with little notice and fanfare.
If we ponder the words passion, commitment and dedication, there is nothing quick and short-term about their meanings. However, these words and their meanings are what embody the excellent work of Jeremy D’Entremont in the world of lighthouses.
Jeremy, who spent most of his formative years in Lynn, Massachusetts, has a fascinating connection to the sea. His stepfather, Bill Meryman, was descended from sea captains and shipbuilders in the Harpswell, Maine, area, and wrote a book about his family’s legacy. The Meryman family had a fish market in Winthrop, Mass., and knew the family of renowned author Edward Rowe Snow in Winthrop. Snow mentioned the Meryman’s store in his book, Ghosts, Gales, and Gold – and wrote about how he would dive under the schooners docked by the store.
Jeremy grew up as a fan of Edward Rowe Snow and always loved hearing him tell stories on Boston radio and TV. He has fond memories of listening to his stories and then repeating the stories to his mother. To Jeremy’s delight, he got to meet Edward Rowe Snow for the first time at a book signing in 1973, and then took a tour of Fort Warren in Boston Harbor with him in 1979.
Jeremy credits his stepfather, Bill Meryman, and author Edward Rowe Snow, for his love of maritime history.
Jeremy received a BFA in filmmaking from Emerson College in Boston, which has come in handy at times during his lighthouse career when he has been involved in various documentary and music video productions. He is presently producing a new podcast for the U.S. Lighthouse Society.
Additional work experience includes running more than 5000 shows as a projectionist in the Omnimax Theater in the Boston Museum of Science and eight years as a media archivist at WGBH TV and radio in Boston.
While living in Winthrop, Mass., in the 1980s, Jeremy produced a series of video documentaries on the life and writings of Edward Rowe Snow. One of the people he interviewed for the series was Snow’s daughter, Dolly Snow Bicknell. It was the production of that series that really sparked his keen interest in lighthouses.
By the late 1980s he was volunteering for Friends of the Boston Harbor Islands, helping to give tours at historic Boston Light. In the 1990s he served on the board of directors of the Friends of the Boston Harbor Islands and also on the board of the Shining Sea Foundation in East Boston, which was an effort to build a new American clipper ship. Although the plans never reached fruition, the experience introduced him to many people who were passionate about maritime history.
Jeremy started writing for Lighthouse Digest magazine – and for various other publications in the late 1990s. He penned more than 300 articles for the Lighthouse Digest, the Keeper’s Log, Soundings, and other publications.
He also started giving presentations on lighthouses and on Edward Rowe Snow around that time at libraries and various organizations. To date, he has given more than 200 presentations, most of them through the nonprofit organization New Hampshire Humanities.
Between 2002 and 2007, Jeremy edited and annotated seven new editions of classic maritime history books by Edward Rowe Snow. These efforts were an honor for Jeremy to be a part of. In more ways than one, working on this project signified that his career had come full circle – back to what had first inspired him.
In all, Jeremy has authored 21 books for several publishers. All, with two exceptions, focus on our amazing lighthouse history. The Lighthouse Handbook: New England will soon be out in a new fourth edition. His “Lighthouse Treasury” series on New England lighthouses published by Commonwealth Editions encompasses the most detailed histories of New England’s lighthouses ever published in book form.
The one book he is most proud of is the self-published Everyday Heroes: The True Story of a Lighthouse Family, which he co-wrote with Seamond Ponsart Roberts, a lighthouse keeper’s daughter. As Jeremy says, “It’s always the human side of lighthouse history that I strive to keep alive in my writing and in my lectures. Without the people, the lighthouses are just empty structures.”
And there is more! From 2008 to 2018 he operated his own company called “New England Lighthouse Tours,” which featured minivan tours based in Portsmouth. Most of the tours went to the Portland area, with occasional longer trips. Over 11 seasons, he gave personalized tours for more than 1,300 people from all over the U.S., and as far away as China, Australia, Italy, and the UK.
Jeremy also narrated many lighthouse cruises since the early 1990s, numbering around 150. Presently, he is involved in developing the “J. Candace Clifford Research Library” for the U.S. Lighthouse Society. He is also doing a news blog for USLHS, and is creating the new podcast “Light Hearted,” which will premiere in early June.
And of course, many of you know Jeremy for his dedicated efforts to help the American Lighthouse Foundation save and preserve lighthouses. Jeremy first joined the ALF board of directors in the late 1990s. He moved to Portsmouth, NH, in 2001. At that time, the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse had been licensed to American Lighthouse Foundation. Seeing a need for a chapter to help ALF care for the lighthouse, he founded Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse (FPHL) and the first public open house was held in June 2001.
Under Jeremy’s leadership, FPHL has not only preserved and maintained Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse in fine fashion, the chapter has also created a very educationally effective public access program at the historic site. On average, the lighthouse welcomes over 5,000 visitors each open house season.
Jeremy is also helping lead the daunting effort to establish a docking system at the wave-swept Whaleback Lighthouse in Kittery for ALF and FPHL. When this effort is realized, it will permit for the restoration and long-term preservation of this 1872 offshore sentinel.
Jeremy also serves as the President of the board of directors for the American Lighthouse Foundation and is the organization’s Historian.
What an amazing journey it has been – spanning four decades – and counting!
Few people can – or ever will, match Jeremy’s combined achievements in lighthouse history, education and preservation. His research is meticulous, his commitment to education a passionate one and his desire to see lighthouses preserved, unfailing. All the while, his varied works inspire and entertain countless thousands.
Jeremy has set a gold standard in so many lighthouse areas of interest. His contributions will stand the test of time and no doubt serve to inspire present and future generations to learn more about our rich lighthouse history and become actively involved in the preservation of this legacy. For all of this, we are proud honor him with the American Lighthouse Foundation’s Keeper of the Light award!