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Beavertail Lighthouse Gets a Major Face Lift

Beavertail Lighthouse MuseumNews Release

BLMA Completes Major Restoration

The Beavertail Lighthouse Museum Association (BLMA) has announced the first major restoration in over 150 years has been completed at the historic Beavertail Light Station in Rhode Island. While the history of the light goes back to 1749, 27 years before the Revolutionary War, it was in 1856 that the present granite light tower and its joining Keeper’s quarters were built. In 1896, 40 years later the second house for the Assistant Keeper was constructed. This structure houses the BLMA museum.

The property owned by the US Coast Guard has gradually fallen into disrepair since the Coast Guard automated the light in 1972 and removed its personal from the site. Over the following years, attempts have been made to stabilize and preserve the buildings by both the Town of Jamestown and the BLMA.  Unfortunately conditions continued to deteriorate where safety and severe moisture damage remediation was necessary by undertaking the major restoration.

Under two grant programs, $227,000 from the Champlin Foundations and $100,000 matching grant from the RI Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, BLMA hired ABCORE Restorations Inc. of Narragansett to undertake the 11 month long restoration project. ABCORE Inc. previously completed restoration of Pomham Rocks Dutch Island Light and Plum Beach Light, all in Narragansett Bay. They preformed the work at Beavertail with quality old fashion workmanship while exhibiting an uncanny attention toward preserving the historical accuracy of the buildings.

All deteriorated iron and metal work above the granite portion of the light tower has been replaced or repaired. All window panes surrounding the light have been replaced with new glass. All metal castings were taken down to bare metal. The entire external cast iron lantern deck, railings and supports were removed. New deck plates were cast from molds replicated by ABCORE, manufactured by a foundry, sandblasted and prepared for painting. New deck supporting members were fabricated and installed.

Beavertail Lighthouse Restoration

Beavertail Lighthouse Undergoing Restoration

The gallery main deck external railings were removed and new sections forged. New corroded corner plate castings were cast and welded to the existing lower deck structure. The gallery deck railings and balusters were been removed, recast as necessary, sandblasted, prepared for hot zinc galvanizing, then epoxy coated, painted and reinstalled The interior inside of the gallery deck Watch Room, paneled with decorative wooden vertical siding has been meticulously scraped clean of multi-year paint layers, sanded to bare wood and finished to its original condition.

Masonry reconstruction work on the external granite blocks of the light tower was accomplished by removing deteriorated and loose mortar between each seam of each the granite block tower by hand tools to a depth of 2 inches. Over 1400 linear feet of mortar was removed. The replacement mortar, formulated to replicate the original lime and cement mix used a hundred and fifty years ago was then re-pointed.

After a void of many years the historical vent ball and lightning rod on top the light dome has a replacement wind vane, compliments of the contractor.

Concurrently with the work on the light tower, the two Keeper houses were sealed from damaging water and moisture intrusion. Rotted roof soffits have been replaced along with floor joists and entrance thresholds. The gutters of both houses have been repaired, and new replacement chimney on the Assistant Keeper’s house constructed.  All of the loose and peeling “parge” coating (exterior brick protective skim coat) removed and both buildings were “re-parged” and repainted to a gleaming white.

During the restoration period, the museum remained open with its full complement of docents, conducting tours and informing visitors about its history and of other lighthouses in Narragansett Bay.

On Oct 10 and 11, in celebration of the completed work, The BLMA invited the public to visit Beavertail and see the new look of the buildings and safely climb to the top of the tower via the internal spiral staircase to the outside catwalk deck.


Submitted by Varoujan Karentz
Beavertail Lighthouse Museum Association

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    The tower was wrapped in scaffolding when I was there in June and again when I went by the light by ship in September. Guess I’ve got a great excuse to go back and see the lighthouse again without the scaffolding now.

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