New Point Comfort Lighthouse stands on an ever-diminishing island, still a welcome beacon for seafarers after 200 years. Below, Members of the New Point Comfort Lighthouse Preservation Task Force and county officials visited the lighthouse on July 19 to inspect it one last time before work on shoring up the surrounding island began the following day. Those visiting were, from left: Dennis Baker, Doreen Folzenlogen, Major J.T. Williams of the Mathews County Sheriff’s Office, supervisor Neena Putt, Josie Thorpe, Mathews County administrator Mindy Moran, Jack Kloke, Steve Whiteway, supervisor Edwina Casey and, not pictured, Wilbur Burroughs and Dan Webster, who were handling the boat in strong waves. Task force chair Earl Soles was unable to make the trip. Photos by Sherry Hamilton
Work on stabilizing the island around New Point Comfort Lighthouse with riprap is now underway, and the project is expected to take about five months.
Members of the New Point Comfort Lighthouse Preservation Task Force took a trip out to the island on July 19 to get a last look at the site before the work began. Construction was scheduled to get underway the following day.
On the boat trip out, task force member Steve Whiteway shared engineering drawings of the project with the group, explaining that the riprap revetment will be built up higher than the island itself, and that visitors will have to step up a walkway to the top of the revetment and step down to a flat surface that will be built to accommodate the equipment needed for construction.
That flat surface will be built about three feet higher than the existing land area, said Whiteway, which will put it three feet up the side of the lighthouse. The door to the building will then appear to be sunken, with steps leading down into it.
Large stones pile into the doorway of the lighthouse, forcing the iron barred door to remain open. Photo by Sherry Hamilton
Currently, large pieces of stone are mounded up along the eastern side of the island, and some have tumbled inside the doorway itself, forcing the rusty barred iron door to remain open. Signs of deterioration are evident in the rusty window frames and the large patches of sandstone that are no longer covered with paint.
While the Transportation Safety Enhancement Grant that was awarded to pay for shoring up the eroding island was a little over $700,000, the winning bid for construction costs came in well below that, at $499,000, said Whiteway. The additional funds will be used to help pay for the second phase of the project, which will be restoring the lighthouse structure itself. The joints of the sandstone blocks that make up the structure will be pointed, the windows will be repaired, and rusting cast iron throughout the structure will be replaced.