Volunteer Guides Needed
The Spring Point Ledge Light Trust, which protects and preserves the Spring Point Ledge lighthouse near the campus of Southern Maine Community College in South Portland, is seeking volunteer tour guides for it’s summer season of Open House events. Volunteers work both in the ticket booth onshore and on the lighthouse itself leading visitors on tours, pointing out harbor sights, and educating the public about the lighthouse’s historic role in the harbor’s maritime history.
Betty Pojak, the Trust’s Volunteer Coordinator, says “Our volunteers are the public face of the lighthouse and should enjoy interacting with people and teaching history. Being passionate about lighthouses is also a plus, along with an enjoyment of fresh air and sunshine.”
Ms. Pojak points out that previous experience is not necessary. Volunteers who desire to work in the lighthouse itself do need to be in relatively good health, says Pojak, since getting to the lighthouse requires traversing the 900-foot breakwater on which the lighthouse sits.
A day of training for new and returning tour guides will be held June 1 in Room 105 of Jewett Hall on the SMCC campus near the lighthouse. Training will take place from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM and will include an orientation visit to the lighthouse, weather permitting. Walk-ins are welcome.Persons interested in volunteering should contact Betty Pojak at (866) 570-5703, Prompt 1, for more information.
2012—Some Successes, A Lot of Challenges
The Spring Point Ledge Light Trust, which owns and maintains the Spring Point Ledge lighthouse in South Portland, Maine, had a successful summer of open house tours in 2012, according to chairman William Berman. The Trust’s events brought in thousands of local, national, and international visitors, helping to raise much needed money that is critical to the maintenance and preservation of the lighthouse.
The Trust has the important advantage of the lighthouse being located at the end of a 900-foot breakwater, allowing visitors to walk out to and around the light. It is the only caisson-style lighthouse accessible to the public. The open house events, which were held each Saturday and Sunday from late June through early October, attracted 2,057 people to the lighthouse, resulting in $6,760 in ticket sales, plus an additional $2,076 from additional sales of lighthouse related items and donations. Bus tours throughout the summer brought an additional 248 people and another $1,090 in ticket and other sales, plus some donations. Total summer tour revenues were approximately $10,200.
The Trust also received grants totaling $19,500.00 in support of various maintenance projects. The entire lighthouse received a fresh coat of paint, along with minor repairs throughout the structure. A local craftsman is putting the finishing touches on cabinets for the galley, which will replace the original cabinets that were removed when the underwater electrical cable was brought into the lighthouse. This is part of the Trust’s efforts to recreate as accurately as possible the interior of the lighthouse to show visitors how the keepers lived while they were on duty.
There are still major maintenance projects in need of funding or completion. The Trust is currently seeking bids for installation of reinforcing steel bands to support several courses of the lower caisson. More critical is water leaking into the lantern room, causing deterioration of the cast iron walls and the deck. Repair of this leak will be a critical priority during 2013, depending on the availability of funding. Grant writer Regal Naseef, of Regal Resource Development in South Portland, is currently assisting the Trust in seeking out and obtaining grants for this important maintenance work.
Historical research into the history of the lighthouse is always an ongoing project for the Trust and 2012 was no exception. The Trust recently acquired three historic photographs of the lighthouse during its construction, the first photographs of that time period to be found.
Additionally, the Trust has reconstructed much of the career of the barkentine Harriet S Jackson, which ran aground on Spring Point Ledge in 1876 during a gale. While the grounding occurred twenty years before the light was built, it was a highly visible example of why a lighthouse was needed and provided some of the impetus for the ultimately successful efforts to get approval for its construction from the Lighthouse Board. Additional research has uncovered records of other shipwrecks that occurred on the ledge, many of them previously unknown.
The construction trades school at Southern Maine Community College, which is adjacent to the lighthouse, built an 8 x 10-foot building that was installed near the breakwater and now serves as a ticket booth and store, giving our docents a much needed sheltered location from which to serve the visiting public. Sales of lighthouse related items are an increasing part of the Trust’s fund raising.
Social Media and the Web
Finally, the Spring Point Ledge Light Trust has been particularly aggressive in its online presence. The web site was redesigned in 2011 and will be further redesigned and updated in 2013. Our Facebook page is one of our most successful means of communicating with the public and the number of people following our activities on Facebook is growing.
The challenges in 2013, particularly fund raising for capital projects and repairs, will task the Trust’s volunteer members, but the Trust has been committed to the preservation of Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse since its acquisition in 1998. The Trust is confident it will meet its goals in the coming year.