Restoration of the Burnt Coat Harbor Light Station
There are four buildings at the light station. When the Town undertook its restoration program, all four were in need of serious attention. The restoration has been guided by a Historic Preservation Plan prepared by Historic Building Architects of Princeton, New Jersey. In 2017, the restoration work received the Keeper Of The Light award from the American Lighthouse Foundation, for “provid[ing] the national lighthouse community with a shining example of preservation excellence.” The preservation work carried out to date is summarized below:
The Keeper’s House
- Sealing and stabilization – a new roof deck and new roof sealed the house from water intrusion. First floor framing required stabilization. Portions of the foundation had to be rebuilt. Chimneys needed repair.
- Exterior renovation – new clapboards; restored soffits, trim and door frames; new gutters and drainpipes; new entrance doors. Window sashes removed, restored and repainted; window frames repaired, sashes reinstalled, storm windows installed.
- Interior renovation – the three main downstairs rooms are restored and in regular use in the summer season for historical displays, art displays, and special events. We also designed and installed a new kitchen and handicapped accessible bathroom.
- Hazmat removal – following guidelines in a professionally prepared report on hazmats, each room was cleared of hazardous materials such as lead paint prior to restoration.
- Upstairs apartment – the upstairs rooms have been transformed into a small apartment that is suitable for summer rental.
The Light Tower
For renovation of the light tower, we are following a detailed engineering cost study and workplan commissioned by the Town in 2013 and prepared by Resurgence Engineering of Portland. The plan calls for two phases of restoration: (1) Phase 1: interior; (2) Phase 2: exterior and masonry.
- Cupola window panes removed, metal frames and astragals repaired, panes returned and professionally reglazed, window frames and metal exterior wall beneath the windows repainted.
- Wooden wainscoting in the lantern room was removed, restored and returned to the lantern room.
- Leaks in the metal shell of the cupola were repaired.
- Rust and lead paint were removed from all wood and metal surfaces in the lantern room and the watch room, and from the stairs.
- Lantern vents were removed, repaired, restored and reinstalled.
- All wooden and metal interior surfaces were refinished with architecturally approved paints in historically accurate paint colors.
“Before and after” photos of the tower restoration can be seen in the photo gallery, Tower Restoration Phase 1.
Phase 2 Part 1, is restoration of the light tower’s exterior masonry and work on the catwalk around the lantern room. That work is underway in spring 2019. We expect it will be completed in summer 2019.
This major project was made possible by a generous grant from the National Maritime Heritage Program (NMHP), which is administered by the National Park Service and the Maine State Historic Preservation Office. The grant was matched with funds raised by the community. The Town of Swan’s Island contracted with Tito Masonry LLC of Portland, ME, for the majority of this work. Scaffolding went up in early May and repair of damaged masonry is underway, following guidelines for preservation of historic buildings. Work on the catwalk requires environmentally sensitive techniques for remediation and abatement. The work will continue for the next several weeks, culminating with painting all restored surfaces, after which the tower will again gleam as brightly as it did when commissioned in 1872. For current information on the progress of the work, check our news blog. Additional photos can be seen in the photo gallery, Tower Restoration Phase 2
After this project is completed, remaining work on the tower (Phase 2 Part 2) will include repairs to interior masonry and replacement of the windows on the tower stairway.
Other buildings and landscaping
There is work needed on the Oil House, the Bell House, and some work on the grounds. In 2018, we expect to further define these remaining projects with up to date estimates.
We are so grateful to our dedicated volunteers! If you would like to help out at the lighthouse, these are the volunteer opportunities:
- Be an on-site volunteer when the Keeper’s House is open for visitors, answering questions, managing donations, and making sure everything runs smoothly.
- Volunteer for a work day on the trails or at the Keeper’s House, or volunteer to be on call for maintenance tasks during the summer months
- Join the Lighthouse Committee or become a Board Member of the Friends of the Swan’s Island Lighthouse
- Research and writing: Help develop informational materials, research the history of the light station, look for grant opportunities
- Help with fundraisers
Information about volunteer opportunities is occasionally posted on Facebook, or send us an e-mail.
Thank you to Our Donors
So many people have helped make things happen at the Light Station and Lighthouse Park. We would especially like to acknowledge foundations and other grantmakers that have helped make so much progress possible:
- Virginia Wellington Cabot Foundation
- MBNA Foundation Conservation Grants Program
- Hart Family Fund for Small Towns, administered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation
- State of Maine, Maine Historic Preservation Commission, New Century Community Program
- Walmart Foundation
- Maine Humanities Council
- Davis Family Foundation
- Maine Recreational Trails Program/Maine Conservation Corps
- Maine Community Foundation, Belvedere Fund
- Maine Coast Heritage Trust
- Maine Seacoast Mission
- Maine Department of Transportation, Small Harbor Improvement Program
Key Planning Documents For The Restoration
- Historic Building Architects, Historic Preservation Plan 2007
- Historic Building Architects, Report on Accessibility and Tower Condition (2011)
- Krage Landscape Plan
- Sutherland Conservation and Consulting, Cross Section Microscopy Analysis Results, Light Tower Interior Paints, Burnt Coat Harbor Light Station (March 7, 2014)
- Summit Environmental Consultants, Inc., Hazardous Materials Identification Report (May 23, 2013)