Camden receives $10,000 grant to replace lighthouse windows

Posted:  Thursday, October 11, 2018 - 8:15pm

Camden, through the efforts of the Historic Resources Committee, received a $10,000 grant from Maine Community Foundation’s Belvedere Historic Preservation Fund to restore windows on the Curtis Island Light Keeper’s House. 

The grant, when combined with municipal funds and in-kind donations from local residents, Steve Caron (painting), the Conover family (caretakers), and many volunteers, will provide for the historic restoration and preservation of all windows on the Curtis Island Light Keepers House. 

Pat Skaling, chairwoman of Camden’s Historic Resources Committee, said in a news release: “This is an important step in the ongoing preservation of this iconic landmark.  The Foundation’s recognition and support provides the needed financial resources to complete this effort.”

Over the next few weeks, Greg Gordon, of the Highland Window Works, will begin removing all window sashes to his restoration shop in Hope, where they will be fully restored. 

Temporary plywood will be installed to protect the Light Keepers House during the winter.  In Spring 2019, the restored window sashes will be reinstalled.  The window sills and inside and outside window casings will be repaired and repainted at that time.  

Curtis Island Light, or Negro Island Light Station, as it was called for 100 years, was built in 1835 by George Galt of Boston under the presidency of Andrew Jackson. 

It was lighted in 1836, and the first keeper was H. K. M. Bowers.  In 1896, the facility was rebuilt under President Grover Cleveland. It was described in 1907 in Ruel Robinson’s History of Camden and Rockport as a “fixed white light of the fourth order.”  

For many years it was the signal station for the Boston-to-Bangor steamboats and schooners, many of which stopped at Camden. 

In 1934, the town of Camden honored one of its summer residents, Cyrus H. K. Curtis, publisher and philanthropist, by renaming the island Curtis Island.  

Following the automation of the light by the Coast Guard in 1970, the station was closed as a manned lighthouse. In 1973, Curtis Island Light Station was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1997 the citizens of Camden voted to assume ownership from the U.S. Coast Guard.  It officially transferred to the Town of Camden in 1998.

Curtis Island Light has remained open to the public as a popular picnicking and small boat destination – remote but within reach.  Many people visit the island each summer, and hundreds of sailors and boaters use Curtis Island as a critical feature marking the entrance to Camden Harbor.  From the island, one has an often-photographed view of Camden Harbor and the coastal mountains.