The American Lighthouse Foundation presented Tom and Jaana Sheehan with the “Keeper of the Light” award during the organization’s annual Lighthouse Gala, which was held at the Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport on May 15, 2016.
ALF’s “Keeper of the Light” award honors those individuals in the national lighthouse community who have contributed in a significant manner to the preservation of America’s lighthouses and their rich heritage.
For Georgetown, Maine, residents Tom and Jaana Sheehan, their involvement with Perkins Island Light Station is more than just a passing interest. For this energetic couple, Perkins Island has become a passion.
Over recent decades, the keeper’s house in particular stood out as an historic structure in need of critical restoration before it was too late. All of the light station buildings are owned by the State of Maine, except for the lighthouse itself, which is Coast guard-owned and license to the American Lighthouse Foundation. However, the State of Maine’s Bureau of Parks and Lands did not have the funds in their budget to help the keeper’s house.
Unwilling to sit idle and watch a beautiful structure like the keeper’s house fade away, Tom and Jaana Sheehan decided they wanted to get involved and do something meaningful to save the dwelling.
So on November 22, 2013, a group of stakeholders met at the offices of the Maine Island Trail Association in Portland to establish a formal process for repairing and repainting the exterior of the keeper’s house at Perkins Island Light Station on the Kennebec River. During the meeting, the Sheehans expressed an inspiring commitment to fund the work for the keeper’s house if there was a path forward with a platform that could accept the funds.
By spring 2014, Maine’s Bureau of Parks and Lands and the American Lighthouse Foundation had hammered out a unique agreement between the two entities that would enable ALF to accept the Sheehans wonderful generosity and apply it to the project in the making. ALF also agreed to manage the restoration project on behalf of the Bureau of Parks and Lands, who maintained final say over the scope of work as owners of the structure.
Once the scope of work was approved by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission and the Bureau of Parks and Land, the American Lighthouse Foundation contracted with the J.B. Leslie Company. The exterior restoration work started at Perkins Island on September 8, 2014 and concluded on November 5, 2014.
The eight weeks of work made a big difference – with the transformation of the keeper’s house ending up nothing short of amazing!
Yes, the partnership between the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands and the American Lighthouse Foundation was special, and through it all, the Maine Island Trail Association proved quite helpful. Also, ALF did yeoman’s work on the management side of the restoration and the J.B. Leslie Company did an outstanding job with the wood craftsmanship and repainting aspects of the project; however, this wonderful success story never happens without the tenacious interest of Tom and Jaana Sheehan and their incredibly kind gift of $45,000 that funded the entire work effort.
The success of the project resonated throughout the local Kennebec River communities, and on October 15, 2015, Sagadahoc Preservation, Inc. in Bath presented prestigious preservation awards to individuals involved in four separate area preservation projects, including the keeper’s house at Perkins Island Light Station. Tom and Jaana Sheehan received an award for their superb financial commitment to the project, which made it a good day for lighthouse preservation – and so is this day. It gives ALF great pleasure to present Tom and Jaana Sheehan with a 2016 “Keeper of the Light” award for their dedication to Perkins Island Light Station!