Light ahead at Rock Island

Rock Island Lighthouse State Park at Fisher’s Point in the Thousand Islands Region was among the recipients of the 2013 New York State Historic Preservation Awards.

Renovation of the lighthouse began four years ago, with the help of $1.5 million in state and federal grants. The Rock Island Lighthouse Historical and Memorial Association has worked for over a decade to help preserve, restore, and tell the story of the lighthouse. Last June, the lighthouse reopened to the public, and a new Friends of Rock Island Lighthouse was established.

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The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) included in the award announcement the following information on the history of the lighthouse and the efforts to preserve it:

“The first lighthouse on Rock Island was built in 1847 to help guide ships traveling through a narrow section of the St. Lawrence River. In the 1880s, a new iron lighthouse was constructed at the center of the island and a new keeper’s house was built. During the early 20th century, the tower was relocated to the water’s edge to improve visibility. The station closed in the 1950s after more than a century of service. In the 1970s, the property was transferred to the Thousand Islands State Parks Region and listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. During the 1980s, area residents Manny and Vicki Jerome led a local volunteer effort to maintain the lighthouse and, later, the Rock Island Lighthouse Historical and Memorial Association was established to help to preserve the property. This year, the Thousand Islands State Parks Region completed a comprehensive rehabilitation of the complex. The keeper’s house has been restored; its main floor features exhibits and the second floor has been refurbished for special events. The Rock Island Lighthouse State Park fully opened in June and a new Friends of Rock Island Lighthouse was established. The award recognizes all those involved in this remarkable project, including Manny and Vicki Jerome; Mark Wentling of the Rock Island Lighthouse Historical and Memorial Association; and Kevin Kieff, Regional Director of the Thousand Islands State Parks Region, and his dedicated staff, for their commitment to returning the lighthouse complex to its former glory and making it accessible to the public.”

For more, visit OPRHP’s press release on the awards.

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