November 27, 1903: How Graves light looked after its first 7 months of construction.
One hundred and fifteen years ago today, Colonel Stanton of the Army Corps of Engineers took advantage of calm seas to photograph The Graves, documenting work accomplished in the 1903 season.
Remarkably, in seven months, the workmen prepared the ledge, constructed temporary cofferdams and wharves, built a barracks and footbridge, and set half the tower’s stones into place.
The next year would see the rest of the tower, interior tiled walls and stairs completed.
Graves Light went operational in September, 1905.
Click here for more historic photos of Graves Light’s construction, along with copies of many of the original blueprints and diagrams.
Remember the oak cabinet that Cousin Kenny built for us?
Well we finally brought it out to Graves this week, in two pieces, and set it up on the first floor.
It’s an exact copy of the 1905 “Service Cabinet” used at Graves to organize the oil lamps and their gear. We have put the cabinet to its original use. As seen in the picture, it now stores genuine, antique, US Light House Service oil pitchers, wick maintenance kit, glass lamp chimneys, and other equipment.
The US Coast Guard provided us with the original plans from more than a century ago. Kennedy made this exact replica, to precise specifications, from the Coast Guard plans.
Well done, Kenny!
Kenny at the firehouse with the exact replica cabinet he built in Connecticut.
Hoisting the cabinet from the dinghy to the dock.
In its new and final home, the first floor of Graves Light.
Storing antique, original US Light House Service oil cans and lamp parts.
A foggy week here at Graves, but work continues.
The guys from CCI Construction have finished reinforcing the Oil House and are waterproofing the tower, while up in Maine, cabinet makers Nat and Don are building some of the last of the magnificent interior furniture and fixtures.
Lynn finishes the careful work to set the true-to-the-original hexagonal tiles on the first deck.
Barry pours the new slab to replace the old.
July has been a busy month on Station.
Inside Graves Light, on the first floor about 40 feet up, which we call the “basement,” Barry from CCI pours a new slab floor and Lynn lays down the same period-correct hexagonal tiles to finish the job.
Mike and other lads from CCI have staged the oil house
, removed the rotted roof, and are fortifying the place to last another 100 years.
Meanwhile, the new solar panels
on our hopefully storm-proof new shed
are generating plenty of power to run all systems.
No need for the fuel-burning electric generators any more.
This summer we begin to seriously tackle the old Oil House. That’s the 10 x 10-foot-square granite house on the ledge next to Graves Light. We started building the new timber frame roof in the spring at a workshop in Maine.
We’re converting the Oil House into a guest cottage. The old postcard to the right shows how the Oil House used to look, connected by a steel landing across a small channel to Graves.
Inside, Gary, Logan and Mike drill six feet down into the ledge, pinning the original granite blocks in place to fortify them for the next hundred years.
Outside, Nelson Metal Fab completes the landing and handrails in the same style as the original landing that was washed away in the “No Name” storm of 1991.
The rotten remains of the old roof are gone. They are seen bundled up to the right of the Oil House. You’ll see something new soon.
We do not plan to rent out the guest house. There’s lots of interest, but it just isn’t feasible.
Building a steel landing to replace the original.
Adding steel reinforcements to the concrete and stone.
Old roof is gone.
Beer-fueled maritime engineering.
Busy weekend on station as we install our new bank of solar panels on the shed roof.
The Coast Guard’s solar panels to operate the navigation light and fog horn occupy the south and east faces of the watch deck, 100 feet above sea level. So the only place left to install panels is on the next-highest point – the new shed roof, about 25 feet above sea level.
This is a challenge because the shed replaces the one washed away in the big gale a few months ago.
Karl and Will, our Nantucket cabinet makers, teamed up with Randy and Dave to design what we hope is a hurricane-proof system to lock down the panels on the sturdy shelf roof. High winds and working over an angry ocean slowed us up a bit, but we’re almost ready to wire it and say good-bye to the gas cans.
Coast Guard solar panels are at the top of the lighthouse, so the new shed is our only alternative.
Windy conditions made panel installation a challenge.
Lots of teamwork to make us 100% solar powered.
Installation nears completion. Batteries will ensure 24/7 power.
Our talented cousin Kenny Burns built this fabulous quarter sawn oak Service Cabinet.
It’s an exact copy patterned from the original 1903 Graves Light blueprints.
The back is curved to fit the radius of the tower.
The original is long gone.
The Keepers used the service cabinet to store oil lamps, tools, wicks and glass chimneys. We’ll use our new one for the same purpose.
Kenny’s shown in his shop before bringing his exact replica to Boston. Soon it will be in the lighthouse.
Don’t you love the smell of a new wooden shed?
The master timber framers at The Barnyard Store in Enfield, Connecticut, built us a replacement, lovingly named “Shed No. 2.”
The sea reached up and grabbed the previous shed during the Riley Gale two months ago.
Patriot Marine hoisted onto the dock yesterday with its mighty 100-foot barge.
Of course, our own Randy was there to guide it into place.
How long will the shed last? Only King Neptune himself knows. . . . Thanks.
We bought and refurbished Graves Light as a private project, so it was a special thrill when the American Lighthouse Foundation recognized our work.
The Foundation has awarded Graves Light and Fog Station its prestigious “Keeper of the Light” award.
Keepers Lynn and Dave accepted the award – a crystal trophy reminiscent of a lighthouse lens prism – at the Foundation’s 2018 gala in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Dignitaries and lighthouse preservationists from around the country attended the event.
The American Lighthouse Foundation’s mission is “to save and preserve our nation’s historic light stations and their rich heritage.”
“This is a very special award,” said Graves keeper Dave Waller. “We promise to continue the good work of restoring and interpreting our little jewel on the sea.”
Pictured left to right: ALF Exec. Director Bob Trapani, Jr; ALF 2nd VP Brad Coupe; ALF President Jeremy D’Entremont; Graves Keepers Lynn and Dave Waller; and ALF Treasurer Alan Ells.