Keeper’s suite almost finished

Nat Town puts finishing touches on the Keeper's Suite.

Nat Towl puts finishing touches on the Keeper’s Suite.

The master bedroom is almost ready.

The antique wooden floor of the 4th level is reconstructed, restored, and polished. The curved, white glazed interior bricks are perfectly clean. Faithful oak-and-bronze reproductions of the original 1905 casement windows have been in-place and functional for a long time. All the old paint and rust are gone, and everything shines like new

Master cabinetmaker Nat Towl from NMT Woodworking is just putting the finishing touches on the Keeper’s Suite. He’s been working on it for months after building our mahogany kitchen bench and doing other work.

The Keeper’s Suite is looking mighty good.

Nat used the same style quartersawn white oak as the original Graves furnishings with a little upgrading for modern lighthouse keeping. If we can squeeze one more work day we just might finish that room before year’s end.

The curved Murphy bed flips up to the wall for plenty of space during the day. Cabinets and shelves provide storage in the 13-foot diameter room. Take a look.

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Making progress inside

gl-before-after-level-2Time to catch our breath and take a step back from when we started.

Two years ago, we vowed to make the old fog-signal plant on Level 2 a living quarters. Like the rest of the lighthouse, Level 2 was in pretty rough shape.

Thanks to some great friends and wonderful contractors, we’ve almost finished the job. It involved a whole lot of paint-scraping, new priming and painting, safe removal of hazardous material, restoration of the old oak flooring, replacement of the block-glass windows with faithful reproductions of the original oak casement windows, and even construction of a curved oak desk. We now have electricity, too!

Instead of peeling paint, wrecked floor and ceiling, and the horrible block-glass windows that choked out the fresh sea air, the old fog-signal plant is now a master bedroom.

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Murphy bed goes up (and down)

gl-murphy-bed-1Now Graves has what every lighthouse needs: A space-saving Murphy bed that folds up to the wall.

Nat Towl of NMT Woodworking custom-built one of quartersawn oak over the summer.

The bed arrived at about the same time electricity lit up the interior of Graves for the first time in 40 years.

Made to fit the curvature of the wall, the bed comes complete with a red-and-black cover storm warning flag.

Nat’s seen here with his pal Mike, installing the bed, which is perfectly balanced and, when closed, features an antique nautical chart of Massachusetts Bay.

Nat built Graves Light’s curved kitchen bench last spring.


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Kitchen bench installation, Graves Light-style

We loaded the heavy bench on the Miss Cuddy in East Boston.

We loaded the heavy bench on the Miss Cuddy in East Boston.

We had quite an adventure installing the custom-built curved mahogany kitchen benches in the Watch Room. The pictures tell the story.

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Mahogany kitchen benches go in this week

Nat of NMT Woodworking shows some of the mahogany benches he built for our kitchen.

Nat of NMT Woodworking shows some of the mahogany benches he built for our kitchen.

Meanwhile, Nat and the lads at NMT Woodworking in South Portland, Maine, have been busy.

Living space at Graves Light is at a premium – none mores than the kitchen on Level 6. That’s the old Watch Room, a circular room of bronze and steel that sits on top of the granite tower and just below the glass Lamp Room.

The NMT crew created this custom mahogany bench seat to fit against the curved wall.

They built it for serious chowder eating. The marine-grade mahogany is able to withstand extreme temperatures and salt air.

You can see how the curvature matches that of the bronze kitchen stove that our man Wyatt designed over the winter.

Nat will be installing the bench system this week, weather permitting, as always. So stay tuned.

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On-shore basement project: Building a lighthouse desk

Winter is a great time for on-shore basement projects for the lighthouse.

We converted an old oak desk into a keeper’s desk. First, we crafted a new top to fit the curved inner walls of the tower. We secured it to the two base drawer units with brass fasteners (no rusty steel in the lighthouse environment) and stained it to match.

The desk is installed on the 4th level, which will be the master bedroom. Next, we’ll start building a space-saving Murphy bed, whose mattress can be stored vertically when not in use, and pulled down flat for the evening.


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Diver’s discovery helps us complete our interior doors

Chris, of Boston Scuba, discovered an original Graves Light porcelain door knob on the bottom of Boston Harbor.

Chris, of Boston Scuba, discovered an original Graves Light porcelain door knob on the bottom of Boston Harbor.

Discovering the original from under water let us install authentic replacements.

Discovering the original from under water let us install authentic replacements from a wrecking company..

Some of the clues to the faithful reconstruction of the interior of Graves Light have come from the bottom of Boston Harbor.

Chris, a diver from Boston Scuba, found yet another artifact offshore at The Graves.

Pictured in his hand is a heavily weathered porcelain door knob.

We had already restored the surviving interior door and built two copies on Nantucket, but we didn’t know what the original knobs looked like. Now we do.

So we found four antique sets of knobs at a local wrecking company. Voila! The doors are now complete. Thanks, Chris!

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Oak ceiling is put in place

G installs the 5th floor ceiling

G installs the new 5th floor ceiling, an exact reproduction of the original, surviving parts of which were left in place.

Remember the oak ceiling we showed being built on Nantucket back in April? It’s now installed at Graves Light.

Karl installs the 5th floor ceiling

Karl Phillips puts the new oak ceiling panels in place.

Master carpenter Karl Phillips built perfect replicas at his Driftwood Construction shop, based on surviving original panels and the original architectural drawings.

Karl and G put the new oak panels in place up on the 5th floor library of the lighthouse. G is performing the trimming and shaping.

Karl did most of the other woodwork at Graves, too, including reconstructed oak windows based on the original casement design, interior oak window panels and sills, interior oak doors, and the mahogany staircase handrails.

As we’d previously noted, we decided to leave the original damaged ceiling panels in place, covering them with the new ones to give some future renovators a surprise.

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Bunk room ‘almost ready’ – lots more work going on

First look at the new Bunk Room at Graves Light, June 2015.

First look at the new Bunk Room at Graves Light, June 2015.

What an amazing week out at Graves!

Carpenters Nat, Karl, Will, and Peter are installing the new mahogany stair rails (see where brass castings of the original fixtures were made) and bunk beds, finishing the windows, and hanging the interior doors.

We’ve never seen this level of activity inside the tower, and it’s really getting exciting out here.

As a safety test, the carpenters camped out a couple of nights. They proclaim the bunk room “almost ready.”


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Refinishing the old oak floor

GL floor1 2015.06.06
Busy day on station. We finished painting the watch deck this weekend, and managed to cover everyone in black paint.

Then we sanded and coated the bunk room floor in anticipation of the arrival of our new bunk beds this week.

That old oak floor sure does look fresh, thanks to Jack, Emmett and Matt. Meanwhile, Wyatt and Paul took care of the rest of the watch deck.


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