The newest FOWIL newsletter has arrived. Click here to check out the 2017 Spring Newsletter.
Visitors to Wood Island Lighthouse this summer will be treated by a new sign on the boat house. The Coast Guard has recently finished painting this new sign, which will be installed sometime this spring.
Internet communications finally returned to Wood Island today due to the work of Kyle Noble and Sean Murphy. The result is that the island cameras are now available again for all to enjoy.
FOWIL’s island internet cameras went out of service early this summer. It was initially determined that while the network on the island seemed to be operating, no connection was being received from the mainland. Several attempts were made to test and realign various components of the internet connection. Two antennas, one at Hills Beach and one on Wood Island transmit the internet signal to the island. A one point, the antennas and transmitters were removed from both locations and tested on the mainland. They appeared to be working, but when placed back to their stations, they again failed to operate properly. The final solution was to replace the antennas and transmitting components on both the island and at Hills Beach with new updated hardware. In just the several years since the original installation, the technology has changed and the new connection speed is much faster.
Click on the this link to check out all the news in the Fall Newsletter.
PRESS RELEASE: AUGUST 16TH
Wood Island Lighthouse, situated off the coast of Biddeford Pool, Maine, has a major new benefactor for its ongoing restoration work. Today, Judith Klement, a resident of Savannah, GA, and the Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse (“FOWIL”) jointly announced a significant donation from Ms. Klement for the interior restoration of the Lighthouse Keeper’s House, beginning with an initial increment of $50,000 for work to be done this summer.
FOWIL learned of Ms. Klement’s interest in helping the lighthouse when it received a short letter inquiring about imminent restoration work that she and FOWIL might discuss. Little did FOWIL know that her intriguing note would yield such generosity. “My longtime interest in historic preservation and my fascination with Wood Island Lighthouse from my many summers at our family home in Saco, prompted me to write.” Ms. Klement said. “Then, two trips to the island to learn about the restoration progress and to meet the FOWIL people reinforced my instinct to help advance the excellent work they are doing,” she added.
Brad Coupe, the Chair of FOWIL’s Executive Committee, said “We are ecstatic and most grateful for Judy’s very generous commitment. With this first piece, we have been able to mobilize and start work on the project, and, with Judy’s further help, it should be possible to complete this phase in approximately a year’s time.” Much will remain after the interior work is finished to achieve the full restoration of the Light Station, according to Mr. Coupe, but this phase will largely finish the restoration of the Keeper’s House and the Light Tower.
The first stage of the interior project is the removal of badly degraded plaster ceilings in all 9 rooms of the Keeper’s House, to be followed by re-wiring of the house and restoration of the plaster walls. The whole interior project is estimated to cost $218,000 and Ms. Klement’s total contribution is expected to fund most of that work.
FOWIL plans to restore the house to its look in 1906, when the current configuration was created. President Thomas Jefferson commissioned the Lighthouse in 1808. It has undergone dramatic changes over the centuries, but the 1906 transformation, when the gambrel roof and columned open porch were added, is regarded by FOWIL to be its most pleasing architectural appearance.
FOWIL is obligated to perform work pursuant to National Park Service restoration guidelines as administered by the Maine State Historic Preservation Commission and the U. S. Coast Guard. “It is exacting work with rigorous standards, but the results are rewarding and authentic,” Mr. Coupe said. “ We have been at this since 2003, doing the work as we could raise the funds to pay for it. Judy’s donation, in the end, may turn out to be the largest we have had from any source and it will take us a long way toward realizing our complete restoration goal. Her confidence in us is a source of great satisfaction and reward to all our volunteers who have devoted countless hours for more than a decade to the work of preserving this historic landmark.”
In addition to its restoration work, FOWIL operates a summer tour schedule taking vacationers out to experience the lighthouse. The group also makes educational presentations to school children and adult groups on the history of this lighthouse and its significance to the maritime commerce in the Saco Bay area.
FOWIL is a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation, based in Owl’s Head, Maine. ALF has responsibility for the restoration and care of 17 lighthouses in the coastal New England States.
Wood Island Lighthouse will be participating in the 2015 Open Lighthouse Day. Tours to Wood Island will be offered between 9-3 (weather permitting). Reservations are required. Please visit the Tour page for information on reserving a space on a tour.
Open Lighthouse Day is sponsored by the American Lighthouse Foundation and the US Coast Guard, and the Maine Office of Tourism. Many Maine lighthouses offer tours and special events on this day. For more information about other participating lighthouses, visit the link below.
FOWIL’s tours will be starting up again on July 2nd for another season of sharing Wood Island with the public. Our online reservations system started on June 23rd, and surprised us with 42 people reserving spots on that day. During a normal tour week we take 6 tours for a total of 102 people. So in the first day of open reservations, 40% of the spaces were reserved two weeks before the tour dates! Were excited that we continue to capture the interest of the public in this amazing place, and look forward to a great tour season.
In mid June, eight IDEXX employees spent a day on Wood Island helping us prepare the lighthouse and island for the upcoming tour season. They mowed the lawns, removed debris, and installed a big “H” on the helicopter landing area. They made a huge contribution to helping FOWIL get the island ready for summer
On Saturday June 22nd, two dozen volunteers ventured out to Wood Island for the first work day of the season. I lot of work was need to start getting the lighthouse and grounds ready for the upcoming tour season. Starting at 8 AM in the morning, the volunteers gave their morning, and some their entire day, to working out at the light.
The ride to the island was enjoyable as always. The ocean was calm and weather warm but overcast. The new motor on Lightrunner ran smoothly. Once at the island, the volunteers split out to tackle different tasks. It was a great turnout to have so many volunteers helping out so that so many different projects could be worked on at the same time. Some of projects tackled during the day included: trimming the overgrown bushes along the boardwalk, turning the hay-field back into a lawn, weeding the flower beds, cleaning the interior of the Keeper’s House and tower, and putting up the safety netting around the tower catwalk.
A special project of the day took place in the oil house. With the restoration of the floor of the connector last Fall, a new storage location was needed for our lawn mowers and weed whackers so that we could keep them off the new floors. So it was decided to bring the oil house back into service. To do so, volunteers cleaned out the debris that were in the oil house and repaired and reinstalled the oil house door.
At noon, the work stopped for a well deserved lunch break, and continued for a time after for those that worked later into the afternoon. All in all, many hands made this a productive day on many fronts.
The maintenance will continue through the summer as the Woodchucks and Woodchicks start their weekly Tuesday morning trips to the island.