Restoration

We are privileged to have become stewards of a great piece of living history. The property which the Coast Guard has made available to FOWIL through the American Lighthouse Foundation includes the tower, keepers house, oil house, boathouse, walkway from the boat house to the tower and eight acres surrounding the house and tower.

When FOWIL was organized in 2003, the property was in need of extensive renovation and initially we worked to stabilize the structures from further deterioration. In recent years, we have worked to restore the buildings to the 1906 time period, which represents the date at which the keeper’s house was renovated to create the current interior and exterior design.

Wood Island Lighthouse is on the National Historic Register requiring special permits at each stage of We work closely with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission and the Coast Guard in our restoration projects. The American Lighthouse Foundation leases the lighthouse from the Coast Guard and the Friends of Wood Island, as a chapter of ALF, raises the money and does the work. The Coast Guard maintains the light and the fog horn.

Tower Restoration

The lighthouse tower is by far the most prominent and popular feature of Wood Island Lighthouse.

Our first tower project, the installation of new handrails on the tower stairs, was finished in July of 2008. The new handrails allow participants of our summer tours to safety ascend the tower stairs to the lantern room, where they can experience Wood Island Light’s unique viewpoint of Saco Bay. Previously, tour guests were not allowed to climb to the top of the tower. Tour guests may now experience what it may have been like for the keepers, who climbed the tower every night to keep the light burning. The completion of this project came just as we celebrated the 200th year anniversary of Wood Island Light. The plans for the handrail installation were approved by the Maine State Historic Preservation Commission.

In the fall of 2009, FOWIL acquired the services of Stone Age Masonry to carry-out FOWIL’s first major restoration project of Wood Island Lighthouse. Stone Age Masonry stripped, repaired, and repainted both the inside and outside of the lighthouse tower. This was by far the largest project undertaken by the Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse since the group’s inception in 2004. In preparation for this project, FOWIL worked with architects and the Maine State Historical society to establish the restoration plan.

Future restoration work includes the ongoing efforts to reduce the amount of moisture on the inside of the tower as a result of the excess condensation on the interior tower walls. This is a problem found at many lighthouses as humid ocean area condenses on the cold stone surface of the tower. During the fall and winter of 2011, FOWIL installed and monitored humidity sensors in the tower in an attempt to try to determine the causes and trends in the tower conditions. In the spring of 2012, a lightning strike destroyed the sensors along with components of the island internet and web camera system.

In 2019, we cleaned the outside of the tower to restore its bright white appearance.

Keeper’s House Restoration

Our long-term goal is for the complete restoration of Wood Island Lighthouse properties, so that current and future generations may enjoy the beauty of the location and the history of its past. Restoration of the interior of the Keeper’s House has been the most expensive part of the restoration process. Years of vacancy, weathering, vandalism and neglect took a toll on the Keeper’s house.

When FOWIL began its stewardship of the lighthouse, painting and repair projects were periodically held to prevent the further deterioration of the house.

Summer 2011, witnessed the largest FOWIL restoration effort to date as the exterior of the Keeper’s house was restored. This $200,000 project restored the exterior of the Keeper’s house back to its 1906 design. Jim Leslie and his team performed the restoration work. This included removing the enclosed porch and rebuilding the porch to the open-air design of 1906. Foundation work, weatherizing, replacing the chimneys from the roof line up, and replacement of some of the windows took place. New less obtrusive security screens replaced the outdated cages that previously enclosed the windows. Savings gained by FOWIL volunteers, who helped handle removing construction debris from the island by way of Light Runner, also allowed the roof of the connector to the lighthouse to be replaced at the same time. This large and successful project was a significant step forward in FOWIL’s goal of completely restoring the lighthouse. Photos of the restoration project may be viewed in the media section of this website.

In 2012, almost two dozen volunteers spent a day working on the interior of the Keeper’s house removing wall and ceiling covers that were post 1906. The efforts allowed FOWIL and our architects to find the condition of the 1906 or earlier structures, and began the design process for the interior restoration.

In 2013-2014, FOWIL continues with fundraising efforts to continue with the restoration of the windows as well as restoration of many interior doors for the eventual restoration of the entire interior.

2015 witnessed a flurry of activity as the realization of FOWIL’s efforts took a giant step forward. Due to the generosity of Judy Klement, the restoration of the interior of the Keeper’s House began. Jim Leslie and his crew once again spent much of the summer and fall working hard to restore the interior. Removing old insulation and wall board, repairing horse-hair plaster, installing new plaster and wall-board, repairing door frames, replacing windows and fixing trim, reframing the bathroom, and many other numerous chores took place. FOWIL helped in many ways by rewiring much of the house and helping with the transportation and removal of construction supplies and debris from the island.

The formation of a Furnishing committee took on the task of creating a plan for the outfitting of the Keeper’s House once the construction work is finished. The group conducted a great deal of research to determine what type of 1906 period paint colors, furniture, and appliances would be appropriate for the lighthouse. The committee assembled an inventory of donated items and began purchasing other items that would be needed with the plan of furnishing the house in 2017 once the interior construction is completed. Unfortunately, due to the construction, the house was off limits to our 2016 tour guests and we weren’t able to display our historical displays.

2017 began with the replacement of the island sewer system. The interior work also continued with the resurfacing of floors, rebuilding of the bathroom, cabinetry work in the pantry, and a great deal of painting and finish carpentry.

In 2018, the season began with a “Move-In Day,” during which a large volunteer group moved stored furnishings to the keeper’s house. Visitors in 2018 were shown the home fully furnished with early 20th century artifacts.

Lantern Room Restoration

The lantern room at Wood Island Lighthouse has the interesting distinction of not being the original room on the tower. The original lantern room was removed when the light was upgraded to a rotating airport beacon in the late 1960s. In 1986, when the Coast Guard realized that it was going to start turning over lighthouses to independent organizations, they constructed a new replica lantern room, which was then installed on the tower.

Today, as the second youngest physical component of the lighthouse (second to the boardwalk), the Lantern Room remains structurally solid and sound. A thousand plus visitors a year climb the tower stairs to visit the lantern room to view the light and the amazing view of Saco Bay.

In the fall of 2012, the interior and exterior of the lantern room was repainted. Previously, some of the surfaces were starting to rust, which was causing a rusty discoloration of the newly painted tower as rain water washed over the lantern room’s exterior surface and onto the tower below. Coincidentally, the Coast Guard replaced the old VRB-25 light, with a new high efficiency LED lighting system soon after the restoration work. Further work on the lantern room should now not be needed for many years at this time.

The Connector

It is easy to overlook the importance of the connector between the Keeper’s House and the light tower on the warm sunny days when tour guests visit Wood Island. For those Keepers who lived on the island year-round, the connector however made work and life for the Keeper far more bearable than the weather challenges faced at those lighthouses which lacked such a luxury.

In 2011, the roof of the connector was restored as an add on project to the Keeper’s House restoration performed in that year.

In 2012 the exterior of the connecter was restored to the 1906 board and batting design. Foundation work was done to restabalize the granite foundations for the connector and a new floor was placed. The connector now remains structurally sound and weatherized for many years to come.

Future projects on the connecter will involve finishing the interior floors, walls, and ceiling, restoring the bump-out that once held the fog horn, installing a security door at the entrance to tower base, and the replacement of the current security door at the entrance to the connector. We hope to utilize the connector’s interior walls in the future as a display area for our many historical photos and displays.

Oil House

The oil house is a unique feature of Wood Island Lighthouse. The oil house was built to store the flammable liquids used to light generations of burning lights that were used in the lantern room. Most of the oil houses built at Maine’s lighthouses were built out of bricks, which makes our attractive stone lighthouse with a slate roof quite unique and picturesque in its location of overlooking Saco Bay.

Years of no maintenance and occupation by seagulls left the interior of the oil house in poor shape. In the early summer of 2013, FOWIL volunteers cleaned out the oil house, repaired the broken door frame and door, and repainted the trim. The oil house was made secure again to keep animals out, and now is used to store maintenance supplies that were previously stored in the lighthouse connector. After the new floor was installed in the lighthouse connector in the Fall of 2013, we needed to move these items to a new location so as to not damage the new floor. In the Fall of 2015 and the Spring of 2016, the slate roof was restored after years of wear and damage.

Boathouse

The boathouse is located on the west side of Wood Island. The location is a half mile across the island from the lighthouse, but provides the best sheltered landing spot on the island. The boathouse is need of repairs and renovations. The exterior is missing many shingles and is in need of new paint.

In 2012 the aged and damaged boathouse door was replaced, along with repairs made to the door frame and adjacent floor. In 2015 the exterior of the boathouse was re-shingled and repainted, with some finish work rolling over into 2016. This work allowed FOWIL’s historic and restored “peapod” boat to be returned to the island in 2016 where it is now on display in the boathouse. In 2016 the US Coast Guard painted a new sign for the boat house, which was installed by FOWIL volunteers.

Make a Donation

Your donation supports our ongoing restoration, preservation, and educational efforts at Wood Island.

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