Photographs: Kate Hill
A new cement deck and a dock are on this summer’s spruce-up plans for a lighthouse just off Rowayton. But these aren’t the only changes promised by Tim Pettee, president of the Greens Ledge Light Preservation Society, who bought the building for $150,000 from the U.S. government last year and donated it to the society. Here, he sheds some light on its future.
“I can’t wait to get a coat of red paint on that [lower] part of the light, which will really be the signal to everyone on shore that the restoration is under way,” he says.
This summer’s fixes, which also include minor asbestos and lead paint remediation, are mostly meant to help the structure—listed as deteriorated on the National Register of Historic Places—withstand a major storm. Future work will be more ambitious: Plans call for converting it to a sustainable off-the-grid living space with state-of-the-art green technology and establishing an endowment for annual expenses.
“Keepers” who donate $50,000 or more will have a key to the lighthouse and the right to stay there overnight, but it will also be available by arrangement for special educational programs and events. The four interior floors will have a kitchen and living space, small museum and bedrooms. But Pettee says it’s what’s up top that’s the best:
“When you walk up the steps to the fifth level and balcony, and you open the door and you’re out on the balcony—probably 55 feet above the water… I think everyone who’s out there has experienced this wow factor,” Pettee says. “On a beautiful day, you can see the skyline of New York City and pick out individual buildings, and you can walk around it… You feel like you’re on a cruise ship; it’s just this great feeling and all your shore-side problems are on land.”
The building is 52 feet tall, with a 4 degree tilt, said to be a legacy of the big hurricane of 1938. Placed into commission in 1902, its signal was automated in 1972. It is still operational.
Of the $2 million goal, organizers have raised $800,000, plus an equal amount in pledges. A summer campaign aims to raise $200,000. savegreensledge.squarespace.com