Montauk Point Lighthouse Relights Historic Fresnel Lens
Thirty-six years after the antique Fresnel lens that once lit the Montauk Point Lighthouse was relocated to the landmark’s museum, the optic returned to the perch where it stood for nearly a century.
Shortly after the 227th anniversary of the lighthouse’s debut, on November 6 the historic Fresnel lens illuminated the landmark tower once more following a pilot program in which local historians had to prove they could perform the necessary daily maintenance involved in keeping it lit.
“We will have a fair bit of responsibility in maintaining the lens and keeping the daily logs and records, but this is such an exciting opportunity,” said Jason Walter, the Lighthouse’s site manager.
The lens — designed to maximize how far ships at sea could see it — was built in 1902 in France and first lit the lighthouse in 1903. But after 84 years of operation, the U.S. Coast Guard replaced it with a lower-maintenance option and moved the Fresnel lens to the museum. The Montauk Historical Society spearheaded the effort to restore the Fresnel back atop the lighthouse tower.
“The Montauk Historical Society was very eager to put the 3-1/2 order lens back up in their tower, and they were willing to perform daily maintenance tasks and keep detailed records and logs for the two-year duration of this pilot program to help us create new protocols for managing our Fresnels,” said Matthew Stuck, Waterways Chief of the Coast Guard’s First District.
Various groups helped the project comply with new regulations the maintain the proper temperature, humidity and light control atop the structure. TriState Sun Control provided a 3M-UV-light filtering window film, SchroffTech installed a new ventilation system and Avtech gave monitors that record the temperature, humidity and dew point.
Despite the hefty price, a grant from the Ludwick Family Foundation of California covered most of the costs. The Montauk Historical Society also received assistance from the Coast Guard, which directed various lampists to support the project.
“The public/private partnership that we enjoy with the Coast Guard is something to treasure,” said Joe Gaviola, president of the Montauk Historical Society Board of Directors. “I know that each and every person on our team is more than willing to go the extra mile to make it work.”