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Future bright for Point No Point lighthouse

A walker strolls toward the Point No Point lighthouse on a recent morning. Below, the lighthouse circa 1918, (photo courtesy the U.S. Lighthouse Society). - Brad Camp / For the North Kitsap Herald
A walker strolls toward the Point No Point lighthouse on a recent morning. Below, the lighthouse circa 1918, (photo courtesy the U.S. Lighthouse Society).
— image credit: Brad Camp / For the North Kitsap Herald

HANSVILLE — JoAnn Johnson is tired of watching history decay at the Point No Point lighthouse.

“As docents we’re in there on weekends, we’re sweeping up brick dust,” said Johnson, president of the volunteer group Friends of Point No Point Lighthouse. “It’s heartbreaking seeing it crumble on a daily basis.”

The 131-year-old Hansville lighthouse is on the verge of receiving restoration money, but it will need the public’s help to get it.

On Thursday afternoon, the lighthouse was ranked fourth among 25 historical Puget Sound landmarks nominated for Partners in Preservation grants, a $1 million pool of money offered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express.

A public online vote is being used to pick the top preservation project and the winner will receive its full grant request. Voting began April 15 and supporters can vote for their favorite project at www.preservationnation.org once each day until May 12. (See more information on page 7).

The United States Lighthouse Society, a nonprofit group based in the Point No Point lighthouse, applied for a $118,000 grant to repair the building that houses the light itself.

“It was exciting to get on the list,” Lighthouse Society Executive Director Jeff Gales said. “It was exciting just to be asked to apply, period.”

Point No Point beat out several other Puget Sound lighthouses to make the list of 25 nominees, said Anthony Veerkamp, Director of Programs for the western office of the Trust for Historic Preservation.

“We wanted to make sure that we had properties that adequately represented the maritime history of the Puget Sound region,” Veerkamp said. “There were plenty of contenders.”

A rich history helped the relatively stubby light station rise above its competitors.

Point No Point lighthouse was built in response to public outcry over shipwrecks on the shoal.

According to the Lighthouse Society, the Lighthouse Service bought 40 acres on the point in 1879 for $1,800 and began construction.

The first keeper, a Seattle dentist named John S. Maggs, arrived in December that year, but work on the station wasn’t done and the lens for the tower hadn’t been delivered. For a month the keeper and his assistant used a simple lantern to light the tower. Improvised canvas storm windows protected the flame from the winter wind.

In January 1880 the station received its first Fresnel lens, an intricate assembly of glass panes used to concentrate lantern light into a piercing beam. It was later joined by a 1,200 pound bell used as a fog signal. Modern equipment has been phased in over time, but the lighthouse has kept faithful service since.

The lighthouse building, however, is in need of help, according to its caretakers.

A major problem, Johnson said, is that the paint used by the Coast Guard has trapped moisture in the brick walls, which are now slowly crumbling. Volunteers have been hanging framed prints over the more obvious erosions.

“We’re running out of pictures,” Johnson said.

The Lighthouse Society will use the grant money to fix up the building that houses the light itself: sealing cracks, replacing windows and making other bricks and mortar. improvements.

“It’s really done pretty well for being that old, in the harsh environment,” Gale said. “If we get this grant, it will be here for another 150 years, no doubt.”

The Lighthouse Society has planned renovations for all three main buildings on the lighthouse property. In the fall it received $72,000 to restore the lighthouse keeper’s workshop, a small building near the parking lot. The workshop project should be completed by the end of May, Gales said.

The society plans to eventually renovate the keeper’s house, a two-story duplex which houses the society’s offices and a vacation rental operated by Kitsap County.

The partnerships supporting the lighthouse had a hand in helping Point No Point lighthouse become a finalist for Partners in Preservation funding, Veerkamp said. Its name didn’t hurt either.

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that it has a darn good name,” Veerkamp said.

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