FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 26, 2016
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Town Receives $165K National Park Service Grant for Restoration of Stepping Stones Lighthouse
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North Hempstead, NY – North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth and the Town Board today announced that the Town has been named the recipient of a $165,000 National Park Service (NPS) grant to rehabilitate the Town’s historic Stepping Stones Lighthouse, which has fallen into disrepair. The lighthouse, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, dates back to 1877 and remains an aid to navigation today, in addition to the important educational purposes of the structure.
The Town had previously applied for the same grant in 2014, but was denied. The Town will be responsible for matching the funding with $165,000. The restoration of the lighthouse will take place in partnership with the Great Neck Park District and the Great Neck Historical Society.
In January U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer joined with Supervisor at a press conference to urge the NPS to provide federal funding so that the Town of North Hempstead could make critical repairs to halt future deterioration of the lighthouse, ready the structure for rehabilitation and launch an educational campaign.
“I’d like to thank Senator Schumer for being such a powerful advocate for our Stepping Stones Lighthouse,” said Supervisor Bosworth. “We are grateful that NHS is providing this grant funding, which will allow us to address some of the major structural projects that need to be done as soon as possible. We are fully committed to restoring this local piece of Maritime history and we can’t wait to get started.”
“I’m pleased that the National Park Service has heeded our call by making the historic Stepping Stones Lighthouse a priority,” said Senator Schumer. “Now that the Town of North Hempstead has been granted this federal funding, the Stepping Stones Lighthouse can finally be rehabilitated and remain a landmark structure on Long Island.”
One of the most pressing projects will be to gain safe access to the lighthouse, which currently can only be accesses during high tide and low winds. The funding will be used to build a temporary floating dock, ramp, boneyard and construction staging area so that other restoration projects can begin.
“We are pleased to see our collaborative effort coming to fruition,” said Robert Lincoln, chair of the Lighthouse Restoration Committee of the GNHS and commissioner of the Great Neck Park District.
“While there is much work ahead, we are gaining much traction which will benefit both present and future generations.”
History of Stepping Stones Lighthouse
In 2008, the Town of North Hempstead acquired the lighthouse from the U.S. Coast Guard with the goal of restoring and using the property as an educational site for future generations. Over the years, the Stepping Stones Lighthouse has deteriorated. Foundation blocks at the base have shifted outward, and there is a crack in the basement floor wide enough to drop a fishing line through that leads to open water. In addition, bricks have fallen from the crumbling chimney and debris from birds and shells litters the floor. Much of the pointing between the granite blocks is missing, endangering the granite foundation of the building. The brick and the granite around the northern top side of the tower are bowing outward, creating an instability of the floor in the lantern room and water intrusion in the deteriorating gutters is destroying the roof edge and fascia, rapidly causing serious damage to the structure.
Stepping Stones Lighthouse was built in Second Empire-style brick in 1877 and was later modernized in 1944; the structure remains a vital aid to navigation today. The brick house and tower are constructed on a granite pier that rests on the outer edge of a rocky reef at the western end of Long Island Sound, at the mouth of the East River. Stepping Stones Lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 for its association with the rise of the Port of New York in the late nineteenth century to become one of the world’s most important centers for maritime commerce.
The Stepping Stones Lighthouse.