Beach Access and Park Issues
February 22, 2010

Bodie Island Lighthouse is getting a facelift

The Bodie Island Lighthouse is getting a much needed and long awaited facelift.

The $2.8 million project to restore and refurbish the lighthouse got underway late last year and is expected to take about 18 months.

When the restoration is finished, sometime in early 2011, the Park Service is planning to allow the public to climb to the top.

The Bodie Island Lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2001, the United States Coast Guard transferred its ownership to the National Park Service, which maintains the operation of the light as an aid to navigation.

Last year, the Park Service received project funds for restoration of both the Bodie Island
Lighthouse and its 1871 first-order Fresnel lens.

The lens was manufactured by Barbier & Fenestre, from Paris, France, in 1871 and is one of the few remaining original lenses of this type. The inside diameter of the lens is 6 feet, 9/16 inches. The light was first exhibited on October 1, 1872 and continues to operate as an active aid to navigation.

The Fresnel lens with its 344 glass prisms has already been removed from the lighthouse for cleaning.  The lens will be returned to the 156-foot tower when the restoration is completed.

The metal catadioptric panels that hold the prisms and the metal pedestal that supports the lens will be cleaned and restored in place.

The lighthouse is now completely encased in scaffolding in preparation for the tower’s restoration.

That will include:

•    Strengthening the support of 10 flights of the lighthouse’s spiral staircase and replacement of 21 cracked stair treads.

•    Removal of lead paint and repainting the lighthouse interior.

•    Replacement and/or repair of windows.

•    Removal of metal pieces of corroded iron from the balcony and lantern room to be recast at a foundry with a mix of the original iron, zinc, and steel.

•    Sandblasting of the rusty metal decking and handrails.

•    Replacing electrical lines, conduit, interior lights, and lightning protection.

•    Installing a fire detection and suppression system.

The work is being accomplished by restoration contractors, Progressive Contracting Company, LLC from Edenton, N.C., and United Builders Group, LLC from New Bern, N.C., and the metal restoration work will be handled by Enberg Mold and Tool from Jacksonville, Fla.  

Island Free Press photographer Don Bowers visited the work site last week.  He climbed to the top of the tower inside and the top of the scaffolding outside to document the work that is being done.

Click here to view slide show

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