There are times when lighthouse preservation efforts exhibit such consistency and success that we tend not to readily notice their uncommon dedication and steady achievements as time passes.
As the year 2010 comes to a close, one project within the American Lighthouse Foundation that exemplifies this notion is Race Point Light Station. Ask anyone who has visited Race Point Lighthouse or followed this intrepid chapter’s efforts since 1996, and you’ll get the same response of admiration and awe for a project well done – and always well kept.
In fact, the American Lighthouse Foundation’s Cape Cod Chapter is so consistently effective at what they do that their success and contribution to lighthouse preservation is just expected, because that’s what they do year in and year out. But we should periodically stop and take note of their sustaining achievements, for there in lies the greatness of the project and the ultimate tribute to its volunteers.
Many lighthouse restoration projects can eventually be realized despite difficult challenges, but the single biggest challenge of preservation may in fact be the ability to sustain the effort with the same, if not better, commitment to excellence than what created the opportunity in the first place.
Race Point Light Station is a shining beacon for this concept. The Cape Cod Chapter’s impeccable care and ongoing improvements to the site, especially in areas such as renewable energy solutions and cultural value to the public, is extremely commendable. Such efforts are even more impressive when you factor in how remote the site is (accessible only by oversand vehicles or an arduous two-mile walk) and how subject it is to the unforgiving elements that are legendary along the sandy beaches of Cape Cod.
I’ve been to Race Point many times over the years, but it was during my most recent trip to the site on October 29, 2010 that it really hit me with just how consistent this project is in all facets of preservation, education and adaptive reuse.
Stopping for a moment and looking around the site, one can not help but marvel at how the light station’s buildings, which are constructed of iron, brick and wood, appear wonderfully sound; but also how fully capable they are of supporting the operations and adaptive reuse program that educates and entertains a multitude of people each year.
The Cape Cod Chapter, which is led by Jim Walker, Bill Jenkins, Scott Branco, Gary Childs, Nikki Nunes, as well as so many others, is also a model ALF chapter with their unbridled enthusiasm and “can do” spirit for the American Lighthouse Foundation and Race Point Light Station.
Yet for all the accomplishments at Race Point Light Station since 1996 – and there have been way too many to count, it is the collective body of work by the Cape Cod Chapter’s volunteers that outshines any one moment of achievement at the site.
The growing legacy associated with Race Point is crystallizing over the years – and what a legacy it is. With more than a decade of dedication and work behind us to examine at the site, everyone can take great pride in the unwavering vigil of the American Lighthouse Foundation’s Cape Cod Chapter to both save a light station that was on the verge of being lost, and to keep its heartbeat strong thereafter as it continues to welcome 21st century guests and keepers alike.
Similar to the light tower’s rotating beacon that still beams forth and guides the seafarer, Race Point Light Station is a golden example of a preservation ethic in motion – and always showing its best when it comes to the station’s historic fabric and mettle of its volunteers.