The annual Montauk Music Festival concerts held at the Montauk Lighthouse are just one of the many ways that the Montauk Historical Society (MHS) raises funds for the iconic landmark’s much-needed renovations.
Due to COVID-19, some of the concerts had to be canceled or postponed, but The Marshall Tucker Band’s concert on August 21 will put the fundraising efforts back on track. Prior to COVID, two successful August concerts were held for the cause, one with a surprise appearance by Paul Simon.
“Such a recognizable and beloved structure, that was the star in raising the funds,” says Nick Racanelli, who serves on both the MHS board and its Lighthouse Committee, which are spearheading restoration fundraising efforts.
Racanelli was charged with raising the nearly $1.6 million needed for the renovations. After a 2016 feasibility study was conducted, it was determined that in order to rectify the problems with the lighthouse, a complete exterior restoration was needed on the tower. Restoration of this magnitude hasn’t been done since the late 1800s. Work is being done in a three-part renovation plan.
Phase I, completed in 2019, consisted of fixing and replacing the metalwork and glasswork at the top of the tower. Much of the tower’s problems came from water seeping in from the top and down through into the walls, causing expansion and cracking of the mortar and stone.
Phase II is where the project is now. The 225-year-old, 110-foot tower has been stripped down, limestone blocks have been replaced with original material, and mortar and joints have been repointed with the material originally used in the 1700s. Now it needs to cure for about a year, after which it will be repainted to its former glory.
Phase III will be recoating to the original colors with paint to meet the environmental challenges at the lighthouse.
Racanelli said among the generous supporters are four major sponsors of the project. Northwell Health donated $250,000, the Robert D.L. Gardiner Foundation issued a $390,000 grant, and the New York State Economic Development and Preservation Fund gave $438,000, while $150,000 came from Sarah and Maurice Iudicone.
Recently, the MHS gave a cocktail party hosted by Gurney’s Star Island to launch a Public Capital Campaign for the Montauk Point Lighthouse restoration. The party celebrated important donors who, together, have contributed more than $1.5 million towards repairing the tower. Now that Racanelli and the Lighthouse Committee have almost met their fundraising goals, they are expanding the campaign for other critical repairs, also to original specifications, for the buildings around the tower.
In addition to the renovations, they are developing a comprehensive maintenance plan for going forward. It will enable future boards to follow and use the techniques/maintenance plan needed for the upkeep of this National Historic Landmark.
In the meantime, The Marshall Tucker Band concert this Saturday, August 21, produced by the Montauk Music Festival, will provide additional funds for the campaign and allow viewers to see the progress made on the tower, which is about two-thirds of the way through. For information about the concert, visit montaukmusicfestival.com. And for more information on donating to the Montauk renovation project, email [email protected].
This article first appeared in the Montauk Sun.