HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Renovations are nearly complete on a historic lighthouse on Long Island.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports, it’s the first time a private group of citizens successfully took over an offshore lighthouse and saved it from the wrecking ball. She got a sneak peek Friday before public tours begin next month.
For more than a century, the Huntington Lighthouse was a trusted beacon in Long Island Sound waters. But the years took a toll.
“It was in just horrible shape. Most of this roof was collapsed, there was three to five feet of bird droppings inside, the windows were boarded up, the cement was cracking and falling off. It was a relic,” said Pam Setchelle, president of the Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society.
Now, the 106-year-old lighthouse will soon welcome the public to see the results of a two-year restoration effort.
Web Extra: A Fly-Around Drone View Of The Huntington Lighthouse
“All the lighthouses are important to save. It’s our piece of history. We don’t have castles like they do in Europe. So these are our castles. They happen to be on water,” Setchelle said. “There aren’t that many that are left.”
Citizens joined forces in 1985 to stop Coast Guard plans to replace the concrete beaux arts structure with a steel light tower.
“Called the Coast Guard and said we wanted to take it over, and they thought we were insane and said we couldn’t do it,” said Setchelle. “And here we are. We did it.”
They did it with more than $1 million in donations and grants.
Inside, the public can see how the lighthouse keeper and families lived. Outside, 2,800 boulders were moved to shore up the foundation.
“We had to deal with weather, location, logistics. We are technically a mile offshore. So anything that you need has to be staged and brought out,” specialty marine contractor Frank Scobbo said.
The original oil-fueled lamp was replaced long ago and is now LED.
Still to come are repairs to the windows and a return of its 1912 furniture.
But in the meantime, public tours will begin in July, and the lighthouse continues to serve as an active navigational tool too thousands of boats in the busy waters.
Tours will run approximately every hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays July 15, August 12 and September 8. They can be accessed from Gold Star Beach. Children under five years old are not permitted. For more information, click here.
The popular Huntington Lighthouse Music Fest will also return this Labor Day Weekend after a year off during the renovations.