After three decades of fundraising to restore the 104-year-old Huntington Lighthouse, major repairs on the foundation have finally begun.
Pam Setchell, president of the Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society, which owns the lighthouse, said it has raised $730,000, which includes a $250,000 state matching grant, to start the repairs that are expected to cost $871,000.
But already the original renovation plan is being revamped. After doing some excavation, crews discovered the entire lighthouse foundation needs to be repaired immediately and not just three sides as had been originally planned.
“All of phase one was supposed to be the foundation repair, additional riprap [granite boulders] and upper structure masonry work,” Setchell said. “But at this point it looks like we are only going to do some of the upper structure masonry work.”
The lighthouse, completed in 1912 at the junction of Huntington Harbor and Lloyd Harbor, was slated to be torn down in 1984 and replaced with a steel tower. But residents organized efforts to preserve the structure, which in 1989 was named to the National Register of Historic Places.
In the middle of July, Port Washington-based Scobbo Contractors, the company hired to do the renovation, started placing barges and cranes at the lighthouse to commence renovation of the 32-by-32-foot foundation.
The renovation process includes moving granite boulders that surround the foundation, cleaning the foundation, installing rebar, refurbishing existing rebar, cleaning the footings that are 4 feet below water, installing steel sheeting around the foundation, and filling the space between the sheeting and the foundation with concrete and backing that up with boulders.
Work on the foundation began in August and is expected to be completed in early December.
On a recent crisp afternoon, Setchell gave a tour of the lighthouse construction site as crews worked to replace 3- to 5-ton boulders along the base of the lighthouse foundation. Crew members waded in the water as they worked on rebar in the foundation.
“We are reinforcing the lighthouse, we’re building it stronger to give it another 100 years of service,” contractor Frank Scobbo said.
But now with changes to the plan, Setchell says the preservation society needs more money.
“It’s like you open up a wall in your kitchen and you think you know what’s behind it but you don’t, so you have to revise the plan,” she said.
Bernadette Castro, former New York State commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, whose home looks out to the lighthouse, has created a fundraising group called the Beacon Society whose mission is to bring awareness and funds to the lighthouse.
“The lighthouse is a historical amenity, a treasure,” she said.
Bob Quinn, who also has a view of the lighthouse from his home, and who has donated and helped to raise funds for the lighthouse for more than 20 years, said preserving the lighthouse is about the future.
“Maintaining history is important,” Quinn said. “Whether it be here in Huntington or anywhere else in the country. People are too quick to tear things down to build parking lots or big skyscrapers. I think for ourselves and future generations, showing them what we had and how it was used and how they can learn and enjoy it is important to everyone.”
How to help
You can donate through the official website: huntingtonlighthouse.org
Or mail a check to: P.O. Box 2454, Halesite, NY 11743
For more information, call 631-421-1985 or email email@example.com.