One of our nine 2017 Preservation Awards Winners was the Bakers Island Lighthouse Rehabilitation. It took imagination to see the possibilities of an aging lighthouse when a notice for bids was issued in 2002. Built in 1820, the 59- foot tower was in poor shape. It had last been renovated in 1996 by the Coast Guard but the stucco exterior and iron lantern were again showing signs of deterioration. No public access existed to allow boaters on the island and the property did not have electricity or running water.
Essex National Heritage Commission’s Executive Director Annie Harris was undeterred. When ownership was transferred to Essex Heritage, Annie acquired a WW2-style landing craft that could access the island as well as a team that could restore, interpret, and guide visitors around the historic project. To raise funds to restore the lighthouse, a successful grant application was made to the Colonel Timothy Pickering Chapter of National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and Essex Heritage organized a Kickstarter campaign and raised more than $30,000 to complete the restoration project.
HSI encourages you to take a trip to Baker’s Island where you’ll be ferried on the Naumkeag landing craft across the harbor to the 10- acre lighthouse site where you’ll meet the current keepers, tour the property, explore the new trails, enjoy the sweeping ocean views. You could also join volunteers, to cut brush, create new paths, paint signs marking the buildings and trails, and help with painting and repairs.
The Baker’s Island Light preservation project is an opportunity for a community that was settled by the sea to recalibrate and remember our origins. It preserves three historical structures in their original landscape and celebrates a unique bygone lifestyle in 360-degree living color.
We celebrate this rehabilitation with a Historic Salem Preservation Award, presented to Essex National Heritage Commission.