It’s been a private residence for more than 20 years, but New York’s Braddock Point Lighthouse has new owners with plans to make it more accessible to visitors and guests.
Don and Nandy Town have an intimate bed and breakfast business in Central Florida. Don recalls how they first came across the “For Sale” sign for the lighthouse. “One day [June 14, 2008; you’ll see the significance of this date in a few moments], I was getting ready to meet our bride and groom for a wedding that was to take place that evening at our B & B. For some reason, I happened to do a [web] search for old homes that were for sale.” The Towns’ side hobby is fixing up old homes. “”For whatever reason this time, I came across an actual lighthouse for sale. After looking at the photos, I couldn’t believe my eyes. This place was breathtaking. It was beyond description. I showed Nandy the photos and instead of merely brushing me off with a “that’s nice, Don,” she stopped and stared at the photos. She told me that the place was gorgeous and although it was a long shot for us to be able to put a deal together that would allow us to spend time both in Florida and New York, to go ahead and give a call to the realtor. So we did.””
Mr. Town explains why this seemed to be more than just happenstance: “One of the reasons that we felt so drawn to this [is that] Nandy and I grew up in upstate New York [Oswego County], and spent our summers on Lake Ontario. The fact that we had come across a beautiful lighthouse, on Lake Ontario, and on our wedding anniversary [June 14!] seemed more than coincidental to both of us!”
Over the following few months, they went up to see the lighthouse and came away thinking that it was actually more beautiful that the pictures on the computer conveyed. “As innkeepers,” Don says, “it occurred to us that this would make for a wonderful bed and breakfast. It is close to a major roadway [Lake Ontario Parkway], minutes from the [Rochester] airport. Absolutely an incredible, unique property!”
As part of their negotiations, they received approval to use Braddock Point as a bed and breakfast. The closing of the sale took about six months, at a significantly lower cost from the original asking price of $1.9 million. (See June 2007 issue of Lighthouse Digest, “$1.9 Million and It’s YOURS!”)
Don and Nandy have extensive plans in mind. While it is a private home and will remain so, they want to provide opportunities for the community and lighthouse enthusiasts to enjoy the history and provenance of Braddock Point. While it is their long-term goal to have the bed and breakfast up and running in about five years or so, Don details their short term goals: “Continue to gather history, old photos, etc., of the light, that will be on display in the home. Provide several open houses throughout the summer, starting in 2009, that will be open to all interested. It was amazing to us how few of the local residents of Hilton, New York, even knew of the lighthouse and it is in their backyard! There are many opportunities to educate and share with the public on Braddock Point.”
Located 15 miles west of Rochester, New York, and about an hour away from where the couple grew up in the Oswego area, Braddock Point is just west of Braddock Bay on Bogus Point. The original 97-foot tower and residence were completed in 1896, equipped with a three-and-one-half order Fresnel lens. The light tower itself was a near twin to the Cleveland Main Light, which was demolished in 1895. The lens, lantern, and metal work from Cleveland were used in Braddock. The light was removed from service in 1954, and the Coast Guard removed the top two thirds of the weather-beaten tower because of structural damage. Since then, the tower has been repaired and a faux lantern constructed to a height of 40 feet. It was relit as a private aid to navigation in 1998. The Towns say the previous owners restored the house to the original plans as much as possible. Don states, “Seems a lot more fancy that the Spartan surroundings lightkeepers usually had.”
Since the house is more than one hundred years old and is exposed to the full wrath of Lake Ontario, there will be ample opportunities for the Town family to paint, fix, and generally maintain the structure. In addition, they plan to do extensive landscaping on the property. Included is the thinning out of some trees so lighthouse enthusiasts can see it from the street, in the hope of stemming the zeal of some sightseers who might trespass onto the private property for a look at the lighthouse. There are also plans for a rose garden, in honor of a turn-of-the-century lightkeeper named Frank Coleman, who reportedly had an affinity for roses.
Don Town adds, “We will never be short of projects that will need our attention. Our extended family has all expressed an interest in pitching in and helping us with these tasks. It probably doesn’t hurt that one of the perks is sleeping in such a grand building, while listening to the peaceful waves of Lake Ontario out your window.”
This story appeared in the
April 2009 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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