Cedar Island Lighthouse to temporarily lose top

The Committee for the Restoration of the Cedar

The Committee for the Restoration of the Cedar Island Lighthouse is working to restore the structure. (Nov. 30, 2010) (Credit: Bill Bleyer)

A preservation group is scheduled to decapitate the historic Cedar Island Lighthouse on Thursday, but with the best of intentions.

The Long Island Chapter of the United States Lighthouse Society has been working for years to mount a restoration of the empty Cedar Island Lighthouse in Cedar Point County Park in East Hampton Town near Sag Harbor.

As a big step toward restoration, volunteers and contractors donating their services plan to remove the deteriorating lantern -- the metal frame structure atop the lighthouse that once housed the lens -- so it can be refurbished.

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Chesterfield Associates of Westhampton will provide a crane to lift the structure and place it on a barge so it can be transported 2 miles to Long Wharf in Sag Harbor. It will then be placed on a trailer and taken to the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard for evaluation and restoration. There is no cost estimate yet for restoration.

This is the first phase of the planned total restoration of the lighthouse, which will include both exterior restoration and a total rebuilding of the interior destroyed by a fire in the 1970s. Bob Coco Construction of Sag Harbor did the preparation work needed to remove the lantern.

The lighthouse was built in 1868 and served mariners until 1934, when it was decommissioned and an automatic flasher was installed nearby. The lighthouse was transferred to private owners after World War II. It was purchased by Suffolk County in the 1960s and became part of Cedar Point Park.

Michael Leahy, chairman of the restoration committee, said: "This national landmark is one of the most significant structures in the Hamptons. We are pleased with this start, but we need significant financial support to complete the full restoration."

For more information, go to cedarislandlighthouse.org.

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