Construction crews removed the 92-year-old lantern room from the top of historic Scituate Lighthouse Thursday morning due to concerns that it could fall off the structure during a storm, project manager Rick Pomroy said.
The South Shore town enacted an emergency order to have the lantern room, the glass and metal structure that contains the light, removed after an investigation by the Spencer Preservation Group found severe corrosion of the iron columns connecting it to the tower, Pomroy said. A new lantern room is set to take its place by summer 2023.
“The tower really needed to come off the lighthouse before any major storms caused it to get any worse or, God forbid, topple over,” Pomroy said in a telephone interview Thursday.
The lighthouse is the 11th oldest in the United States. Built in 1811, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. The lantern room was last renovated in 1930, according to the Scituate Historical Society.
In April, the town’s Community Preservation Committee voted to approve the funding for a new lantern room featuring a new frame, windows, glazing, and copper cladding.
During the War of 1812, the original lightkeeper’s daughters, Abigail and Rebecca Bates, noticed a British warship approaching and launching a longboat to loot the town for supplies. So the sisters grabbed a fife and drum to play the song “Yankee Doodle” to ward the soldiers off, according to the historical society.
Thinking they might be rowing right into an American army on the shore, the British soldiers turned around and rowed back to their warship, and the girls were dubbed “The American Army of Two,” putting the lighthouse in the history books, the society said.
Pomroy’s company, Pomroy Associates, contracted with Cenaxo LLC to remove the lantern room with a 50-ton crane and rest it behind the lightkeeper’s house, Pomroy said.
“We’re not going to demolish it,” Pomroy said. “We will most likely move it to a different location in town and have it as a historical feature.”
As for the light that used to be a beacon for ships in the area, the US Coast Guard and Scituate harbormaster have been notified of its absence, Pomroy said.
The contractor is in the process of taking off the concrete cap and deck, which will be completed over the next few days, he said. The top of the tower will be waterproofed and completely closed up on Monday, which is how the tower will remain until the end of next spring.
The lighthouse was previously a popular visitor’s attraction, and had periodical open tours where people could walk into the lighthouse and visit the lantern room, Pomroy said. The lighthouse will not be open for any business until the renovation is completed.
“People are free to walk around it and look at the sides. It’s a beautiful area,” he said. “The tower will be standing there, but the lantern room on top obviously will not be there.”