Since 2004, the Swan’s Island Lighthouse Committee has been chaired by Professor John Bryan, of Swan’s Island and Columbia, SC, a distinguished Professor of Art and Architectural History at the University of South Carolina (now retired). Under John’s leadership, the light station restoration project has been held to high standards, leading to an award for excellence in historic preservation from the American Lighthouse Foundation. At the same time, community use and appreciation of the buildings and the trails has grown steadily. Since 2008, John has also chaired the Friends of the Swan’s Island Lighthouse (FOSIL), an associated non-profit corporation that has raised substantial sums to assist the Town’s lighthouse restoration project.
Throughout the tenure of John’s wise, professional, effective, low key leadership and architectural expertise, John, together with a group of dedicated fellow volunteers, and with the support of the Town, worked to bring about the transformation of Burnt Coat Harbor Light Station and Hockamock Head. Thank you John for your inspired leadership and tireless efforts in bringing the iconic Burnt Coat Harbor Light back to life! Roberta Joyce would have been proud.
In 2019, John passed leadership to Keith Harriton, a Swan’s Island resident well known as “LJ’s lawyer” and for his efforts to save Hopkins Freight when the Island supply delivery service was threatened with termination. Keith is a distinguished attorney still active as a senior partner in his New York law firm, a member of the Swan’s Island Comprehensive Planning Committee and Broadband Committee and a history buff. We welcome Keith and thank him for taking on the challenge of leading the Lighthouse Committee and FOSIL and moving this grand achievement forward.
The change in leadership is symbolized in the photographs in this posting. Lighthouse Committee volunteers raised Old Glory in 2009, for the first time in many years, in front of the Keeper’s House which was in sad disrepair. A decade later, in June 2019, some of the same volunteers raised the flag in front of the restored Keeper’s House to mark the beginning of the 2019 summer season. At the end of the season, in September 2019, Lighthouse Committee members and others gathered as John Bryan lowered the flag, marking the end of a leadership era. The flag was carefully folded and handed over to Keith for safekeeping until summer 2020. The ceremonial lowering of the flag by John and the hand off to Keith with all in attendance paying their respects, marked a fitting tribute to the transition in leadership.
Lighthouse Day 2019 was a tremendous success with some 85 visitors hailing from Swan’s Island, Stonington, Bangor, and Machias to Florida, to Arizona, to South Carolina to Denmark. The restoration work on the exterior of the tower having been completed, the tower (which had been closed all summer) was re-opened for tours. Responding to demand, the Tower tours extended beyond 4:00 PM. The event was followed by a gathering for Lighthouse folks and Town leaders to, in John’s words, “toast a towering achievement!” We shared so many ideas for next season!
The Lighthouse Committee and FOSIL are hugely grateful to John for 15 years of inspired leadership, and to Keith for taking John’s place. As always, we are grateful to all our volunteers, supporters and donors, but especially to these two lighthouse leaders!