Historic Preservation & Maritime History
Restoring the historic Cuckolds Light property requires repairs to and restoration of existing structures as well as the replication of previously existing structures.
Our Cuckolds Light preservation and maintenance team includes an experienced lighthouse engineer, an experienced program manager, a leading historic architect with lighthouse restoration experience, and others with extensive professional experience in general contracting, marine construction, iron and steel fabrication, and commercial and residential construction. In undertaking our preservation and maintenance activities at Cuckolds Light, our team is using the significant guidance provided by the Historic Lighthouse Preservation Handbook, which offers effective guidance for the preservation and maintenance work to be done. In addition, the Council will seek guidance from Maine’s State Historic Preservation Office, and receive help and support from the American Lighthouse Foundation, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, and a wide variety of organizations and individuals who are volunteering help in the local community.
1. Preservation of Existing Structures
There are five structures on Cuckolds Island today: the remaining structure of the fog signal and light station; wooden bulkheads; a steel-framed, raised wooden helipad; a steel-framed solar power system; and partial remains of the slipways. All of these structures are essential to maintaining automated navigation signals and will be maintained in cooperation with the United States Coast Guard.
The remaining historic fog signal and light station structure. The remaining historic Cuckolds Island Fog Signal and Light Station Structure will require immediate repair, restoration, and regularly scheduled maintenance:
- Granite blocks that make up the foundations are in sound condition but will be regularly assessed to assure continued stability.
- Brickwork will be cleaned and pointed as appropriate. Bricks will be replaced as necessary, particularly in the area of the fresh water cistern.
- Doors and windows of the historic Cuckolds Island Fog Signal and Light Station structure will be reopened and replaced with historically appropriate doors and windows designed in keeping with the plans dates 1891, revised in 1907, and photographs of the historic structure.
- Wood decks and iron railings of the historic Cuckolds Island Fog Signal and Light Station structure will be restored to original or near-original condition and appropriately maintained.
- The historic Cuckolds Island Fog Signal and Light Station structure’s interior will be cleaned. Temporary ceilings, plywood and pressed board panels, which are not historically appropriate, will be removed. Plaster and brick walls will be repaired and maintained.
Wooden Bulkheads. Structural maintenance of the two wooden breakwaters will be necessary. Iron fasteners and wood components will be replaced as needed.
Steel Framed Raised Helipad. The Council will not provide helicopter service to Cuckolds Island, but will work with the Coast Guard to maintain the existing helipad with 4x10 timbers and steel structural supports.
Solar Power System. Dependent upon battery capacities, it may be desirable to expand the solar generating system by installing additional panels on the existing frame. Power will be potentially provided by the following sources: existing undersea cables, expanded solar generation, an electric generator, and propane. Fuel will be stored in small quantities: tanks to be mounted above ground, in the area once used to store two 50-gallon drums. Propane will be supplied in a residential bottle. Existing undersea cables have been located and can be spliced to provide online power to all Cuckolds facilities; this is the preferred option. Expanded solar generation would require placement of additional solar panels and batteries.
Slip Ways. The Council will replace the lower 25 feet of 10x10 timber missing from the boat ways and replace components of the deteriorated walkway that had been constructed down the middle of the ways to provide safe and more comfortable access to the island.
2. Reconstruction of Previously Existing Facilities
The Council will reconstruct the attached keeper’s quarters and boat house. The Council has obtained plans for these wood-frame buildings dated 1891, and revised in 1907, from Mr. Kirk Mohney of the State Historic Preservation Office in Augusta, Maine. The Council will work from these plans and photographs of the historic Cuckolds Island structures with drawings prepared by Martin Moore of Coastal Designers and guidance from Mary Werner DeNadai, FAIA, who is a principal in John Milner Architects, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Mary also is a team member and past chairman of Preservation Action, a member and formerly President of Preservation Pennsylvania, and Chairman of the Historic Preservation Board for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. She has been involved in the restoration of more than 20 historic lighthouses.
Reconstruction of the Cuckolds Island Fog Signal and Light Station structures will be managed by a locally based general contractor, working with appropriate subcontractors and using skilled volunteer craftsmen. Work will meet appropriate building codes, insurance requirements, and be in keeping with the Secretary of the Interior’s “Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.” Building exteriors will be restored with historic accuracy. Interior space in the residence and tool buildings will be designed to provide:
- At least two finished suites, an income-producing suite (subject to National Park Service consultation and approval) designed in keeping with the period, well-furnished to provide guest comfort and enhance and enrich the Lighthouse living experience.
- Sleeping rooms offering dormitory style accommodation for up to 12 students, volunteers, and/or other program participants.
- A modest keeper’s room, affording a modicum of privacy for a seasonal attendant of program leader.
- Two bathrooms with shower and cleaning facilities.
- A fully equipped country kitchen.
- Open plan public spaces that can be variously configured for small group sessions, training seminars, individual work/study, exhibit displays, receptions, and food service.
Interior space will be architecturally designed and use materials compatible with the project’s exterior restoration.
3. Security and maintenance to stabilize the site, control vegetal growth, or avoid damage.
Cuckolds Island offers reasonable security by virtue of its location. It is also visible from the shore and by the fishermen and many lobstermen, who work the surrounding waters. Local interest and awareness provide a level of security that can be favorably compared to popular community watch programs and a keeper will be generally present.
A modest garden will be recreated with the guidance from a former lightkeeper’s family and assistance from the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Participating volunteers will maintain the garden.
Stabilization, the first phase of our work, will include site clean-up, repairing the ways, roof and window repair, ceiling and deck repair/replacement, some brick, stone, and plaster repair, and painting.