Overcast skies, the threat of rain and a dense fog shrouding the Verrazano Bridge did not dampen the spirits of those who attended the Fort Wadsworth Lighthouse 100th anniversary party on May 10 at historic Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island, New York. A sizable crowd gathered not only to celebrate the light’s birthday but also to applaud the restoration efforts that have taken place over the past year. The anniversary party included a special proclamation from the Staten Island Borough President’s office, tours of Fort Tompkins and the lighthouse, a barbecue, music, birthday cake (what’s a birthday party without cake!) and a special fireboat display from two New York fireboats - the active Firefighter and the historic John Harvey. These fireboats traditionally add that special touch to New York events.
The Lighthouse Restoration Volunteers, Joe Esposito, William Crowley, William McCalip, Richard Scmeelk, and Tim Cook, worked during the year on weekends and often under adverse conditions to complete Phase 1 of the restoration (restoration of the lantern room) for the celebration. The next phase will have the keeper’s house restored and eventually Phase 3 will include the relighting of the lighthouse.
Joe Esposito, Project Manager for the restoration, originally approached Steve Salgo, Park Ranger at Fort Wadsworth, with the idea to have the historic light ready for its 100th birthday. They both agreed on the idea and approached Shirley McKinney, Superintendent of the Staten Island Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area, who gave permission to go ahead with the project. The volunteers, with the help of some local teenagers, worked diligently throughout the year, including the hard winter, to prepare the light for the special event. Their work and commitment have not waned and they hope to complete the project by next year. I hope that the Fort Wadsworth Lighthouse will shine again as it once did before it was decommissioned in the mid-1960s with the opening of the Verrazano Bridge.
This story appeared in the
July 2003 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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