A huge shout out to Thacher Island Association and president Paul St. Germain for winning an Essex National Heritage Area partnership grant to restore the elevated pedestrian lighthouse walkway on Straitsmouth Island.
Paul St. Germain writes, “We will restore the original C 1850, 220-foot granite and wooden timber walkway to provide safe and easy access for the public to visit the lighthouse from the keeper house. This walkway has been there since 1854 and was destroyed sometime in the 1930’s. Besides its usefulness it has also been an iconic signature of the island’s profile for over 80 years.”
This unique 1906 photo shows the 315-foot walkway, the oil house, and keeper house, as well as Thacher Island’s Twin Lights in the distance.
Facts about Straitsmouth Island Light Station
- First lighthouse was established in 1835 to mark the entrance to Rockport Harbor.
- The lighthouse was rebuilt in 1851 and again in 1896.
- A 6th order Fresnel lens was installed in the lantern in 1857.
- The current Victorian styled keeper house was built in 1878 similar to the one on Thacher Island.
- In 1932 the light was converted from white to green.
- Coast Guard moved the station to shore at Gap Head and sold the island to private parties in 1934.
- Coast Guard continues to maintain the light as an official aid to navigation today. In 1967 the island (except for the lighthouse) was donated to Massachusetts Audubon Society who maintains it as a wildlife sanctuary.
- Straitsmouth Island was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
- In 2010 the lighthouse and 1.8 acres of land was given to the Town of Rockport by the coast guard.
- In 2014 the Town of Rockport signed a long term 30 year lease with Mass Audubon for the use of the keeper and oil houses.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THACHER ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE AND STRAITSMOUTH ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE, VISIT THE THACHER ISLAND ASSOCIATION WEBSITE HERE
Straitsmouth Island pounding waves after March nor’easter
What fun to encounter a small flock of terns teaching its young to fish. Nearly as large as the adults, the tubby terns cheekily squawk and demand food (shrimp I think in this case). Watch as the fledglings try to master fishing skills while the adults tirelessly guide the young on how to feed themselves.
With thanks to Paul St. Germain, president of the Thacher Island Association, for information about the ongoing restoration of shorebirds on Thacher Island.
Local author releases exciting new title featuring stunning, vintage images
The Cape Ann Museum is pleased to present an illustrated book reading/signing with local author Paul St. Germain on Saturday, July 25 at 3:00 p.m. Cape Ann Granite is the newest title in Arcadia Publishing’s popular Images of America series. The book, which is set to release on July 20, 2015, boasts over 200 vintage images, many of which have never been published. This program is free and open to the public.The granite industry began on Cape Ann with the first sale of a piece of Rockport granite, for use as a millstone, to a farmer in Newburyport in 1800. The industry would grow to include more than 60 quarries and operations around the cape, becoming the second-largest economic force in the area behind fishing. Hundreds were employed as quarrymen, stonecutters, paving cutters, and finishers. Cape Ann was particularly well fitted for the pursuit of granite as its rocky hills and shores afforded a comparatively inexhaustible source of supply, and its splendid shipping facilities gave the advantage of quick and economical transportation to market by sea and land. The industry eventually declined, and by 1930, most quarries had gone out of business because of labor strikes and low demand. Today, most of these quarries are filled with water, and many are used as reservoirs for the surrounding communities.
The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.
Paul St. Germain has been a Rockport resident for 20 years and has written two other books in the Images of America series about the lighthouses and lifesaving stations on Cape Ann and Thacher Island. With assistance from the Cape Ann Museum, the Sandy Bay Historical Society archives, and other private collections, he has developed a revealing record of the men, the quarries, the tools, and the final uses of Cape Ann granite around the nation.
A delegation of Thacher Island volunteers, finally able to visit the island after the February 10 blizzard, discovered substantial damage to the boathouse at the top of the landing ramp. The damage included eastern and northern walls dislodged from their foundations, siding torn loose, the rear door torn off its track, and interior shelving knocked loose. Wind and high water also deposited boulders and debris across a broad swath of ground. Snowdrifts prevented the volunteers, Syd Wedmore, Paul St. Germain, Peter Bergholz, and Bill Lee, from inspecting other structures on the island. Oddly enough, the water that surged through the boathouse did not disturb the American flag that still lay neatly folded on a dislodged table in the middle of the jumbled debris.
(Photos supplied by Paul St Germain)