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Straitsmouth Lighthouse Gets New Owners

But No Public Access Likely

Straitsmouth Island Lighthouse, MA
Originally uploaded by LeKriz
The town of Rockport, MA, and the Thacher Island Association have been approved to become the proud owners of the Straitsmouth Lighthouse, under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, announced earlier this month. The Thacher Island Association already cares for the twin lights at Cape Ann, and have partnered with the town to oversee the maintenance of the new one. Unfortunately, because of its location, public access will be next to impossible at Straitsmouth, unlike the Twin Lights, which are open to the public.

Under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, Salazar will forward his selection to the administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), who will formally transfer ownership of the lighthouse from the U.S. Coast Guard to its new owners.

“Straitsmouth Island Lighthouse has marked the entrance to Rockport Harbor since the 19th century and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987,” Salazar noted in a prepared statement. “By transferring ownership of the lighthouse to Rockport in partnership with the Thacher Island Association, the American people can be assured that this important part of our nation’s rich maritime history will be preserved for future generations.”

So Why No Access?

Straitsmouth Lighthouse sits in the middle of a wildlife and bird sanctuary owned by the Audubon Society. The town, when sending in its application, agreed to take over the lighthouse contingent on being allowed an easement over the property. It was granted by the Audubon Society, but will certainly limit public access. But the educational requirements that the NPS has for its transferred lighthouses can still be met by having educational displays at a nearby site or museum.

While the town is included in the transfer of ownership, it will not be contributing any money toward its maintenance, leaving the fundraising to the Thacher Island Association. Unfortunately, if they are unsuccessful, the lighthouse would revert back to the Coast Guard. The town does not want to put out any time or money at all in providing for this light. Rockport’s selectmen voted unanimously in October to acquire a portion of Straitsmouth Island and its lighthouse at no cost to the town, with the other caveat the selectmen placed in their application being that taking over the stewardship (in name only) was also contingent on getting Community Preservation Act money toward the costs.

Fortunately, the Thacher Island Association is active and has the experience necessary to make this a successful transfer. If you want to donate, they can be reached through their website: www.thacherisland.org/ and Jeremy D’Entremont has a great history of Straitsmouth Island and the Thacher Island Twin Lighthouse.

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  1. 1 Comment(s)

  2. By Gary aka lighthousephoto on Jul 24, 2009 | Reply

    What is it with towns that want ownership of historic structures but who are unwilling to spend anything to help maintain and/or restore the very same structures. Maybe you have to be a politician for any of this to make sense… or may it just can’t make cents?

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