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Foundation gifts nearly $400G toward repairs at Montauk Lighthouse

Kathryn M. Curran, executive director of the Robert

Kathryn M. Curran, executive director of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, announces in July that the foundation awarded a $390,700 grant for the Montauk Lighthouse restoration project. Credit: Richard Lewin

A project to restore the 225-year-old Montauk Lighthouse is well on its way to being funded in full following the latest donation, a $390,700 grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation.

The money was announced during a July 14 donor cocktail party and brings the total funds raised for the project to about $1.6 million, said Mia Certic, executive director of the Montauk Historical Society, which owns the structure.

Certic said the historical society was blown away by the support for the landmark, which is a National Historic Landmark and was commissioned by George Washington in 1792.

The group has since revised its fundraising goal from $1.1 million to $1.86 million and has expanded the project’s scope to include an overhaul of the 1860 building that houses the museum and lighthouse keeper’s quarters.

"It is this incredibly powerful symbol of safety and home, and people are happy to contribute to preserve it," Certic said.

The Gardiner Foundation, a Hampton Bays-based nonprofit that aims to promote Long Island and New York State history, called the lighthouse an important historic structure.

"The history of the Montauk Lighthouse as an original welcoming beacon to New York, coupled with its striking presence, makes an iconic symbol not only of Long Island but of hope and safe harbor to millions," Kathryn Curran, the foundation’s executive director, said in a news release.

Other donors include $250,000 from Northwell Health and $150,000 from part-time Montauk residents Maurice and Sarah Iudicone, Certic said. New York State has also awarded $438,500 in grants.

The lighthouse funds most of its $1.5 million annual budget through gift shop and admission sales, but fundraising campaigns are needed for capital projects, officials said.

Phase one of the work, which began in 2019 and has been completed, included repairing metal at the top of the tower and stripping the paint off its limestone exterior.

The project is now in phase two, which includes repairing masonry and mortar joints. The final phase will entail recoating the tower in its signature red and white stripes. The work is expected to be completed in 2022, Certic said.

Although the grounds are welcoming visitors, the tower itself did not open for the 2020 or 2021 season due to the pandemic and construction work. No reopening date has been set, Certic said.

An unrelated two-year, $30.7 million state and federal project to strengthen the rock wall surrounding the structure to protect it from erosion began in May.

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