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Ever want to live at a lighthouse?
Crashing waves and howling winds were constants in the lives of the authors of Lighthouse Life once they became owners of an historic New England lighthouse. After living in its 1828 keeper's cottage for 18 years, Barbara Lesko has written about the experience, both the challenges and delights, she and her husband Leonard faced at Nayatt Point Light on Narragansett Bay.
The Leskos had hoped to find waterfront property in Rhode Island when they moved from California to Brown University in Providence, but they had not anticipated finding a lighthouse. Due to an unexpected coincidence and remarkable generosity on the part of a celebrity, they were able to purchase, at a much reduced price, this special property on a beautiful point of land in an expensive community.
Once settled in, the Leskos faced many challenges: restoring a decayed beacon, keeping the tower painted, maintaining the granite seawall, and gardening on a wind swept, salt sprayed property. They suffered through ferocious winds and hurricanes, but enjoyed interacting with wildlife, watching the migrations of birds and the approach of weather fronts, as well as the ever changing view of sails and passing ships plus the fishing and oystering off their point.
They were determined to bring a lighthouse lens back to the lantern room and had many experiences hunting for appropriate antique lighthouse equipment for the tower and finding period furnishings for the cottage. Nayatt Point Lighthouse went on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. The original government specifications for the building of the tower and cottage exist and are explained, while the changes in the appearance of this light station are documented by early prints and photos.
Included also is the history of the neighborhood (going back over 400 years) as this was a summer camp for the Wampanoag Tribe and then the "garden" of the Plymouth Colony. The 18th Century saw an early brick industry develop nearby, and, in 1840, one of America's first resort hotels opened just up the road. Later in the 19th Century, Nayatt Point developed into a colony of grand summer residences adjacent to the Rhode Island Country Club.
While the original 1828 tower was undermined by storms and rebuilt in 1856, Nayatt Light would be superseded by an offshore beacon after the Civil War, Conimicut Light. However, the Nayatt Point keeper's cottage remained in use by those who manned that station after it suffered severe damage in an ice storm. Once sold off by the government in 1890, Nayatt Point Light became private property, and the cottage was modernized and expanded.
Barbara Lesko recounts what is known of the original private owner who saved the property and of the earlier sequence of lighthouse keepers here. From her own experiences with winds, waves, and low temperatures, she developed a deep appreciation for the early residents whose commitment to servicing America's vital navigational aids was matched by their ability to endure great hardships and deprivations. Even wives and daughters were responsible for some of the early lights, and their stories of heroism are recalled. Here too is described the development of the U.S. Lighthouse Establishment (later Service) and the technological advances that took place over the years.
Today even working lighthouses are automated and the arduous, dangerous work of keepers is a thing of the past. However, as the Leskos tried to maintain the tower and seawall, the house and grounds, they faced many of the same challenges familiar to the keepers of their light in the 19th Century.
Readers who love lighthouses or who follow nautical history, or who are involved with preservation of historic architecture or environmental issues, or even with collecting antiques will find much to enjoy within these pages.
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Book Description Outskirts Press, Incorporated. Paperback. Condition: Very Good. A copy that has been read, but remains in excellent condition. Pages are intact and are not marred by notes or highlighting, but may contain a neat previous owner name. The spine remains undamaged. At ThriftBooks, our motto is: Read More, Spend Less. Seller Inventory # G1432741772I4N00