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Nantucket, MA – August 25, 2011 – The Trustees of Reservations, U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will be hosting two upcoming events to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the iconic Great Point Lighthouse, one private event for island supporters of The Trustees on Thursday, September 1st and one public event for Nantucket residents and visitors on Friday, September 2nd. The Lighthouse is located on Nantucket National Wildlife Refuge, also referred to as Great Point, which abuts the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge owned by The Trustees of Reservations, a statewide conservation organization.
On Friday, September 2, 2011 from 10AM to 4PM, interpretative tours of the Lighthouse and Refuge will be offered to the public by USFWS and Trustees of Reservations staff. The Trustees will waive entrance fees for 4x4 OSV vehicles during this time so that visitors may drive out to Great Point and enjoy lighthouse tours and/or a day on the beach.
Thanks to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Lighthouse was rebuilt following its destruction during a 1984 storm. After Senator Kennedy secured two million dollars in federal money for the reconstruction, the lighthouse was reconstructed three hundred yards west of its former location. The new tower, which included some material from the original 1818 lighthouse, was dedicated on September 7, 1986 with Senator Kennedy raising a flag, smashing a bottle of champagne against the lighthouse, and declaring "Great Point is alive and well again."
Victoria Reggie Kennedy will be the guest of honor at The Trustees’ annual reception for members of Great Point Circle, a private event being generously co-sponsored by the USFWS on Thursday, September 1st to thank the organization’s many generous supporters on the island.. Mrs. Kennedy will formally re-dedicate the lighthouse in memory of her late husband’s extensive legacy of support for conservation issues in Massachusetts and nationwide.
“We are delighted and honored that Mrs. Kennedy will be joining us for the rededication of The Great Point Lighthouse,” says Andrew Kendall, President of The Trustees of the Reservations. “We know how important Ted was in the conservation movement and we are thrilled to have her here to share in celebrating his legacy on the island.”
History of Great Point Lighthouse
Great Point Lighthouse (also known as Nantucket Lighthouse) sits at the end of a seven-mile-long strip of sand at the northern tip of Nantucket, overlooking the gap between Nantucket and Monomoy Island that connects Nantucket Sound to the Atlantic Ocean. The beacon for many maritime travelers has a long history. By the late 1700s this passage was one of the busiest areas on the East Coast, mostly due to the thriving whaling industry, but hidden shoals and strong, unpredictable currents made the thoroughfare a difficult challenge for mariners. The earliest recorded mention of a lighthouse at Great Point (then known as Sandy Point) was in 1770, when the town leaders of Nantucket formed a committee to ask the General Court of Massachusetts to build “a lighthouse on the end of Sandy Point of Nantucket” to serve as a beacon to the many mariners who sailed nearby. The Revolutionary War temporarily delayed the lighthouse campaign for a few years, but afterward, the committee was replaced by a single representative, who was instructed to “use his Influence in the General Court to get a Light House on our Point according to his own Discretion. Archford Vernon Haskins served from 1937 to 1944 as the final principal keeper at Great Point before Coast Guard crews were stationed at the lighthouse.
Great Point Light was automated during the 1950s, and the keeper’s house was boarded up and abandoned. In 1966 a suspected arson fire completely destroyed the dwelling. In 1971 the Fresnel lens was replaced by a 190mm solar-powered modern optic. Through the 1970s and ‘80s, erosion brought the tower closer and closer to the water. Although the Coast Guard repainted and refurbished the tower in 1983, no action was taken to actually move it away from the water, although discussions continued. Then on March 29, 1984 a hurricane-force storm toppled the lighthouse and cut through the barrier beach, leaving the remains of the tower on an island. The Coast Guard proposed putting a skeleton tower at the site as a replacement, but local residents successfully resisted the idea, but instead called upon the influence Senator Kennedy.
More about The Trustees of Reservations
Founded by open space visionary Charles Eliot in 1891, The Trustees “hold in trust,” and care for, 105 spectacular “reservations” located on more than 26,000 acres in 75 communities throughout Massachusetts. On Nantucket, The Trustees own and manage Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge and are licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard to maintain Great Point Lighthouse. The Trustees provide fishing, lighthouse, sunset and natural history tours. The Trustees also partner with Nantucket Conservation Foundation selling oversand vehicle permits for 4x4 vehicles.
The Trustees are committed to being a force of action in creating a sustainable future and are working to promote healthy, active, green communities around the state, by providing hundreds of year-round programs and events that inspire people of all ages to enjoy the outdoors and appreciate the history, nature, and culture of the Commonwealth. Most programs and events are free-of-charge or heavily discounted for members.
Accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, The Trustees are an established leader in the conservation and preservation movement, The Trustees also hold perpetual conservation restrictions on more than 19,000 additional acres (a total larger than any other conservation organization in Massachusetts), and have worked with community partners to assist in the protection of an additional 16,000 acres around the Commonwealth.
One of the largest non-profits in the state of Massachusetts, The Trustees employ 152 full-time, 49 regular part-time, and 400 seasonal staff with expertise in ecology, education, historic resources, land protection, conservation, land management, and planning. To find out more or how to become a member, donor or volunteer, please contact www.thetrustees.org.
More About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The Nantucket NWR is one of 553 national wildlife refuges administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The 24-acre refuge is managed for migratory birds and marine mammals, including the Federally threatened piping plover and the Federally endangered roseate tern. The Refuge also provides great fishing and is a favorite destination for Nantucket residents and visitors alike.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov/northeast. Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfwsnortheast follow our tweets at http://twitter.com/USFWSNortheast, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsnortheast.