A group consisting of USDA personnel, Coast Guard personnel, marine contractors and members of the East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation visited the Plum Island Lighthouse to assess its condition and evaluate the feasibility of restoring the lighthouse and reactivating it as an aid to navigation.
The group examined the lighthouse’s interior and exterior and the conditions of the bluff in front of the lighthouse. Since its deactivation, the lighthouse has been abandoned and left to the mercy of the elements. The structure’s granite and cast-iron shell is sturdy, but will need some attention to be made weather-tight, while the interior has peeling paint, falling plaster, rotting wood, and asbestos and lead concerns.
The most urgent concern is the eroding bluff upon which the lighthouse sits. The waters of Plum Gut, which have worn away at the bluff for many years, claimed a generator/search light building in 1997 and continues to move toward the lighthouse. Marine contractors George Costello, of Costello Marine, and Seth Allan, of Chesterfield Associates, assessed the conditions and available materials and will work together to create a plan and estimated cost.
The East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation’s Lighthouse Committee is conducting a study of the feasibility of restoring the lighthouse. When plans and estimates for erosion control and building restoration are obtained, the committee will report back to the Foundation’s Board of Directors. The East End Seaport currently maintains the Long Beach Bar Lighthouse (The Bug Light), and the maritime museum and Village Blacksmith in Greenport.
The first Plum Island Lighthouse was built in 1827, and replaced in 1869. This lighthouse served until 1978. The lighthouse and property upon which it stands was turned over to the Animal Disease Center, which owns the rest of the island, shortly thereafter. The Animal Disease Center has been unable to care for the lighthouse due to lack of funds. The Plum Island lighthouse is one of only two Long Island area lighthouses that are endangered, the other being the Cedar Island Lighthouse in Cedar Point County Park.
More information can be obtained from the East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation
This story appeared in the
July 2000 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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