Friday, September 23, marked the first pop-up event that the Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse Gift Shop, located on campus in South Portland, hosted for tourists and local students. It was a small event that offered food and promoted local artists, but it was also intended to help spread awareness about the lighthouse’s lurking issue– the foundation is facing erosion from the harsh Maine environment. The small group of volunteers is looking for people to help with the expensive process of diagnosing and fixing the historic lighthouse.
The Spring Point Lighthouse Trust was aware of this encroaching issue nearly a decade ago, long before Art Greene, the current chair of the trust, took up his role. “The last study showed there was some significant change going on. If that was 10 or 15 years ago, that hasn’t corrected itself,” Greene explained to the Beacon. The trust needs to find the funds to conduct another study and then fix the problems. According to Greene, the whole process could run into six figures.
The Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse has been in operation since 1897 and was passed on from the Coast Guard to the Spring Point Trust in June of 1998. Since then, the trust has replaced corroded roof plates, sealed cracks in the watertight foundation– called a caisson– and replaced the windows. However, the repairs needed are expected to be worse than what the trust’s dwindling manpower can handle, according to Greene, who said, “it’s a structural issue that’s far out of our realm. It will need some type of grant.”
Hannah Warren, the docent and volunteer who organized the event at the gift shop, told me that she was trying to find people with the means to make that happen. “That’s why I wanted to do pop-ups and things like that. To start building a local community with the assets we have. That’s my ulterior motive for doing this. If we don’t talk about it, then they’re not going to know there’s a need.” Warren said. The trust has been lacking in manpower. The group also needs volunteers just to run the gift shop and offer tours. The entire system was disrupted by COVID suspending in-person tours, and now there aren’t enough people to keep the gift shop open very often.
“With the volunteers, it’s a balancing act. We ought to be open on weekends, but we don’t have the volunteers. We don’t want to abuse the ones that we have by overtaxing them. Then we lose them,” Warren said. Their older members stepped back because of COVID, and in-person tours had to be halted for the past two years. This makes their resources even more scarce than usual. According to Warren, she researched the trust’s records and there was a lack of volunteers even 15 years prior.
Students or visitors concerned with helping can visit the Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse Website, where there is also a bevy of information about the lighthouse.