- Category: East Coast
- Published on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 09:16
- Written by Peter Bondi
- Hits: 393
Lighthouse enthusiasts in Connecticut are taking the next steps toward preserving the Sheffield Island Lighthouse, which marks the approaches to Rowayton and Norwalk on the Connecticut coast. The non-profit Norwalk Seaport Association is working with the state Department of Economic and Community Development, along with Feasy-Smith architects and the Cenaxo Company, on an extensive restoration project.
Phase 1, funded by a $250,000 state grant, includes exterior repairs of the lighthouse tower and the keepers quarters, such as wood repair and paint, re-pointing the masonry walls, stabilizing the structure and roof repair. Phase 2, which is awaiting funding, will consist of interior restoration and additional reinforcement of the seawall. The current work extends repairs and restoration led by the association in 1988 and 1989. In 1997, a group of volunteers working with a local contractor reinforced the south side seawall on the island to protect the property and the lighthouse.
Established in 1828, the original Sheffield Island Lighthouse tower was replaced in 1868 by the current structure. Around the same time, the government built five sister lighthouses: Great Captains in Greenwich, Conn., Morgan Point in Noank, Conn., Old Field Point in Long Island N.Y., Plum Island in Long Island, and Block Island in Rhode Island. In 1902, the government decommissioned Sheffield Island Light and built Greens Ledge Light, although the keepers of Greens Ledge used Sheffield as a shore station.
In 1914, the government sold the lighthouse to Thorsten O. Stabell, who along with his sons Thorsten and Anton Stabell, maintained the property as a private residence. The Stabell family still owns a small cottage on the island. In 1986, the Norwalk Seaport Association purchased the lighthouse and keepers cottage along with the two and half acres of property it stands on from the Stabell family. The lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. The rest of the island is a wildlife refuge.
The Norwalk Seaport Association maintains the lighthouse and property as a maritime educational facility and museum for the public, ferrying them out to the island in a 49-passenger boat from the Sheffield Island Dock, located just outside the Maritime Aquarium IMAX Theater in Norwalk. For more information on tours, visit www.seaport.org. Photo courtesy Norwalk Seaport Association.