Scituate Lighthouse remains rich in the history and identity of the town.
“It is visited by thousands of people, locals and tourists, each year,” said Jeff Martell, a member of the Scituate Historical Society, and chair of the Lighthouse Preservation Committee. “In fact, according to Travelocity, it is the number one attraction in Scituate. Each year there are numerous wedding photographs and engagement proposals there.”
Article 12submitted by the Community Preservation Committee, will ask members of Town Meeting, taking place at 7 pm on Monday, April 11, to approve $2 million to restore the lighthouse.
“In addition, we have applied to the Massachusetts Cultural Commission, the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism for grants,” Martell said. “Also, we have applied to the New England Lighthouse Lovers and the US Lighthouse Society for grants. Whatever grants we are awarded will be used to offset the CPC funds.”
A Scituate beacon for over 200 years
Construction began on the Scituate Lighthouse in 1810 after the federal government appropriated $4,000 to build a lighthouse at Cedar Point, Martell said. It was completed the following year.
“The light was decommissioned in 1860 when the second Minot Light was built,” Martell said. “At that time, the lantern room was removed.”
The Town of Scituate purchased the lighthouse in 1916.
Martell said, “In 1930, Town Meeting voted for funding to reconstruct the lantern room even though this was in the midst of the Great Depression. That year’s Report of the Park Commissioners stated, ‘believing that a town is partly judged by its public buildings and grounds, we immediately started to repair the Light House.’”
The Scituate Historical Society was given custody and administration of the lighthouse by Town Meeting vote in 1968, and in 1987 Scituate Light was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Restoring an icon
Scituate Light has been tended to in different ways and different places over the years.
Photographs from 1977 show work being done to the tower, presumably resealing the masonry, Martell said. Work was done in 1991 on portions of the lantern rom in preparation for relighting the light.
“Much of the work involved constructing and installing a new ventilator ball, some wood framing, and trim,” he said.
The light was relit in 1994 as a US Coast Guard-permitted Private Aid to Navigation.
In 2004, the deteriorating outer layer of brick, originally added in 1827, was replaced under the supervision of the Scituate Historical Society.
Because the lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Martell explained that all work on the light must be conducted in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
“To accomplish this, the historical society and the Town of Scituate are working to assemble a team of specialists with a documented history of historic lighthouse restoration,” he said.
In consultation with the town, the Historical Society has decided to conduct a complete historic restoration of the tower.
“The primary focus is the lantern room,” Martell said. “The copper cladding, installed in 1930, is quite deteriorated and is allowing water to penetrate the structure. As a result, we anticipate replacing the wrought iron structural frame, as well as performing extensive repairs to the wood roof frame.”
The deteriorated copper cladding will need to be replaced; Martel added.
“While work is being done, all the masonry will be cleaned, inspected, and resealed. The interior stair will be inspected and repaired.”
It is felt the repairs to the lantern room must be done expeditiously, Martell said.
“The deterioration of the wrought iron, originally installed in 1930, must be undertaken to restore the structural integrity of the lantern room.”
Upon approval at Town Meeting, it is hoped the bid process will then be complete to have a lighthouse specialist, experienced in historic preservation and restoration, ready to begin on July 1 when the funds become available, Martell said.
The first step that will be taken by the chosen lighthouse specialist is to conduct a complete survey and documentation of the tower to develop a comprehensive plan for the restoration.
“Standing proudly at the entrance to Scituate Harbor, Scituate Light has been the symbol of our town for over two centuries,” Martell said. “Generations of townspeople have stepped up to maintain this iconic lighthouse. Now it is our turn to step up and restore this light once again so that it may continue to shine for another century.
Town Meeting will take place at 7 pm on Monday, April 11 in the gymnasium of Scituate High School, 606 Chief Justice Cushing Highway (Route 3A).
More information on Town Meeting, including the Advisory Booklet and the Warrants may be found on the Town of Scituate website at scituatema.gov
Follow Ruth Thompson on Twitter @scituateruth