Although the Coast Guard considers lighthouses excess property, abandoned lighthouses are not completely friendless. In every country there are many people who honor the relics of past adventures and who count aged light towers among their nation’s most important monuments.
In fact, lighthouses are enjoying a surge of popularity. They have been looked upon as romantic structures, representative of the very best instincts of humankind. Lighthouses have never had an image problem.
Many people dream of buying lighthouses. These dreams aren’t far-fetched. Three Florida Lighthouses were recently put up for sale. The Sombrero Key Lighthouse was recently auctioned for $575,000, the Carysfort Reef Lighthouse sold for $415,000. The high bid for American Shoal Lighthouse is $700,000.
Owning a lighthouse is no easy task. Lighthouses require expensive upkeep.
The St. Augustine Lighthouse Tower is undergoing restoration despite being $400,000 short of funding the entire project.
Outside, painting typically occurs every five to six years, but for the first time in 30 years, the inside of the St. Augustine Lighthouse is being restored. The full restoration project includes painting, metal and cast-iron work and rust removal. In addition, four steps will be replaced.
Encyclopedia of Lighthouses by Jay Jones.
The state of Maine stirs up strong emotions among its residents. Imagine their shock when the State’s Historic Office approved the blowing up of one it’s historic landmarks.
When a team of military frogmen received permission from Maine’s State Historic Office to blow up a 1903 lighthouse keeper’s house, it sparked outrage and concern about the fate all Maine Lighthouse faced after being automated.
While automation is cost effective, it takes its toll on historic lighthouses. Without keepers to watch over them, their windows, walls, and delicate lens have been damaged by the weather or vandalized. Some have deteriorated beyond repair.
In the 1990s a group concerned largely with the culture and ecology of Maine’s rugged coastal island, entered negotiations with the Coast Guard about the future of some of Maine lighthouses.
The highly innovative Maine Lights Program was the result. The Coast Guard agreed to make those lighthouses available to qualified nonprofits and other government agencies.
The Maine Lights Program brought about the transfer of more than thirty lighthouses from federal ownership to local communities, other government agencies and nonprofit groups.
Two years after the completion of the transfers, Congress passed the National Lighthouse Preservation Act.
My sister has been there for me at the most important junctions of my life. She advocates for my art and has flown to my exhibits around the country.
My sister was there when I did my first lighthouse painting. It was of Amelia Island Lighthouse. My excited was tempered by the difficulty in getting to the lighthouse.
It seemed like there was a conscious decision to hide the 67 foot tower.
Surely this caper was a ploy by the US Coast Guard and the upscale neighborhood to keep visitors at a minimum. True to form there were no directional signs for getting to the lighthouse. The GPS was in cahoots with their plan and proved useless in the search. Still the paper map indicated the lighthouse was nearby.
Finally, after noticing a narrow unmarked road, my sister and I discovered the beautiful lighthouse at the road’s end.
Sometime later I learned that the lighthouse was surrounded by private homes and concluded that access was indeed intentionally limited. The city conducts fee based tours to minimize freelancers like myself,
Words do have power.
Now that I look back on this quote by a fellow artist, Gil Mayers," First the rats, then the roaches, then the artists..."I realize how it started me on my journey of painting lighthouses. My friend was lamenting the demise of neighborhoods due to the demolition of buildings. This thought planted a seed that came to fruition when I moved to Miami Beach years later.
In Miami Beach, I discovered the Art Deco District and how it materialized because of the passion and foresight of one woman, Barbara Capitman, a New Yorker. She was the force behind the creation of the Miami Design Preservation. Through their hard work an entire neighborhood was saved from demolition.
Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly & most underrated agent of human change. Bob Kerrey
J. Candace Clifford used her expertise to help advance the cause of lighthouses and women during her brief life. She co-authored the book, "Women Who Kept the Light" which sheds light on the dynamic impact of female lighthouse keepers. Candace served as a maritime historian for the National Park Service and the United States Lighthouse Society.
I met J. Candace Clifford at the reopening of the Anclote Key Lighthouse in Florida. She took photos of the event and did a television interview. I was sketching when our paths crossed. Candace paused to photograph me. We exchanged business cards and talked briefly.
After the publication of the article she encouraged me to write, I was contacted about an art exhibit.. My exhibit “Shattering the Lens” at the National Lighthouse Museum in New York paid homage to Candace Clifford and female light keepers.
The popular resort, Amelia Island also known as the Isle of Eight Flags, has historically been the envy of nations. Its strategic location attracted explorers from Spain, England and Mexico to its shores.
Modern day explorers flock to the island for the Isle of Eight Shrimp Festival, April 29-May 1.
Shrimp boats will be docked and “decked out” in nautical attire at Fernandina Harbor downtown. Fernandina at Amelia Island is recognized as the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry.
Enjoy live entertainment on the Riverfront Stage throughout the festival. Sample a sumptuous variety of shrimp and more. Don’t miss the juried Fine Art and Crafts event, rated as one of the Top 100 Shows in North America by “Sunshine Art Magazine.”
Celebrate with a tribute to the island’s past at the Blessing of the Fleet and Decorated Shrimp Boat Parade and Contest on May 1.
Simultaneous contrast is not just a curious optical phenomenon - it is the very heart of painting. Josef Albers
Peering from the top of the tower of the Tybee Lighthouse
An empty shore, a peaceful ocean stood afar. Not a soul in sight.
Unlike the busy lighthouse, people clamored to climb the tower.
A picket fence on the grounds evokes a nostalgic and solemn mood.
Its small scale contrasted with the towering lighthouse.
Standing behind a canopy of palm trees, the beautiful Cape Florida Lighthouse towers against a clear blue sky. The beacon is surrounded by mangroves and not condos, thanks to the park's namesake, Bill Baggs. The Bill Baggs State Park was opened in 1967 foiling efforts by developers.
Most lighthouses sit on premium oceanfront property. Cape Florida Lighthouse is located in Key Biscayne, Florida where many celebrities call home. The cost of living is 90% above the national average.
About one third of the United States is owned by the federal government. Many national parks also sit on premium real estate. Most developers see little value in preservation. Developers lobby to gain access for mining, logging, drilling, etc.
President Biden’s recent announcement to open up more public land for oil and gas has enraged environmentalists. But beyond talking points, what sacrifices are Americans willing to make to preserve the environment?
Covid has robbed us of so much happiness. So who needs another guilt trip about how terrible we are about taking care of the planet?
Here’s a list of the simple things you can do to celebrate Earth Day.
The National Park Services exemplifies what public service is all about. Steward Udall
The popularity of the colorful cliffs and the Gay Head Lighthouse is nothing new. One light keeper, according to a newspaper article, retired on disability due to "visitor-itis!"
I’m sure quite a few national park personnel were struck with “visitor-itis” during the pandemic but stayed on the job.
In 2021 the National Park service welcomed 297 million recreational visitors, up 60 million an increase of 25.3 % from 2019.
Park managers devote a significant amount of staff time to monitor the use of parks by visitors. Park rangers not only monitor guests but perform a wide range of duties.
They may be law enforcement officers, environmental experts, historians or a combination of the three. Despite their different roles, what remains constant is their faithfulness in working to conserve federally recognized natural and cultural resources.
When I am not traveling to or painting lighthouses, I am writing or researching lighthouses.