Village Craftsmen OcracOke Newsletter
January 21, 2017
The Great Lighthouse
Fulcher Cloud, from her book, Ocracoke
Lighthouse, 1993, Chapter 6.
Lighthouse and the structures within the compound were on the National
of Historical Places long before the Village of Ocracoke became an
District. Approximately thirty-two thousand people visit this
station annually. It is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), which is
responsible for the operation and maintenance of the lighthouse. The
quarters are used by the National Park Service, which has the
for the maintenance and upkeep in accordance with the terms of a
agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard. In 1987 the National Park Service
determined that the keeper’s quarters needed major
rehabilitation, and by 1990
had expended $278,000 to rehabilitate the interior of the structure.
time several inspections were made of the lighthouse and it was found
of immediate preservation work to stabilize its deteriorating
condition. As a
result of a Bicentennial Lighthouse Grant of seventeen thousand
NPS initiated an“Historic Structures Report” to assess the
condition, document historic fabric, and develop a scope of work.
Lighthouse is a small generator house, which holds the generator that
lighthouse in operation when there is a power outage. Because Ocracoke
power from Virginia, the island is often with electricity; if anything
anywhere down the line, we who are at the end of the line lose power.
lighthouse has continued to glow with or without power for 165 years
1988, when the tired, worn out generator ceased to work. The U.S. Coast
decided not to replace it, as it would be less costly to install
navigational lights on the hand rails that encircled the lamp of the
This was done by drilling holes through the structure base, through
cables could be run that would operate the lights by batteries. Not
only was it
unsightly, it added seriously to the weakening of the structure.
of the light from Ocracoke Lighthouse had given the residents of
well as captains of ships off shore, a feeling of security that even we
unaware of until the first power outage. None of us realized that, when
outage occurred, our first reaction was to immediately look in the
the lighthouse. A feeling of desertion and insecurity must have swept
island, for the power outage was a topic of the next day’s
two small battery operated lights that had been installed on the rail
and the lighthouse was in darkness. The sight was viewed with anger and
of 1989 a contract was put in operation to paint the lighthouse and
windows and door. The old wood-clad windows were removed and vinyl
windows with snap-in muntins (which are in violation of the Secretary
Interiors Standards for historic structures) were installed.
learning of this, I contacted two friends, who joined me, and promptly
demanding that the contractor cease work. The contractor disregarded
demands, but we were able to make a quick inspection of the work being
were the windows a violation by style and material, but they were not
enough for opening in the structure! The openings had been framed up
material to make the windows adaptable. Inquiring about the old
learned that they were to be sent to Portsmouth, Virginia, to be
were at this time inside the ground level of the lighthouse.
We left the
premises in order to make some phone calls and inform the proper
We talked to the U.S. Coast Guard, National Park Service, State
Preservation Society, and Congressman Walter P. Jones office. All
these acts were in violation of Section 106 of the National Historical
Preservation Act of 1966.
In one of
those phone calls, I was made aware of a letter dated May 27, 1987, two
prior, from the Department of Cultural Resources in Raleigh, North
the United States Coast Guard in Portsmouth, Virginia, part of which
question the need to replace all windows and frames as specified in
Our photographs of Ocracoke Lighthouse indicate that the existing wood
and frames are in fair-to-good condition. The total replacement of all
frames and sash with the new vinyl-clad or aluminum-clad units with
muntins would be in violation of the Secretary of the Interior’s
use in either the door or windows of the Ocracoke Lighthouse.
that each existing window frame and sash be carefully inspected for its
condition. Any deteriorated elements of the window frames, such as
stops, jams, and lintels should be repaired or replaced to match the
detailing. All sash which are in sound condition should be repaired and
as needed. Frames or sash which are too deteriorated to be repaired
replaced with new frames or sash which have been milled or fabricated
the existing ones. Any new replacement sash should be of true six-light
construction, and identical to the existing sash. Snap-in muntins are
that the workmen at the lighthouse at that very moment were in direct
of all official instructions for the project and that we had
this fact, we returned to the lighthouse to inspect the windows which
removed from the structure. Upon arrival we found the door of the
had been secured by twisting wire around the latch. With much protest
contractor, we opened the door and found the windows to be in excellent
condition. We proceeded to take the windows to our vehicle in order to
them for safe keeping, ignoring the demands of the contractor to put
as we drove off, the seriousness of removing federal property without
permission, we decided to call all authorities, both state and federal,
inform them of our act and demand they take action at once to render
and cease the destruction of this historical structure.
afternoon a meeting had been arranged for the following Wednesday with
National Park Service, our Hyde County Commissioner, and several
Officers, including Commander Malrose and Lt. McCaffrey, both of
Ohio, who had the contract with the civilian contractor. I had several
conversations earlier in the day with Malrose or McCaffrey. I felt they
neither cooperative nor courteous; on two occasions they refused to
meeting, Commander Malrose and Lt. McCaffrey, who had flown in from
heard our complaints and were informed of the seriousness of
regulations for compliance with Section 106 of the Advisory Council.
was clearly explained by a specialist on restoration of historical
at this meeting.
hearing our complaints, Commander Malrose agreed to have windows milled
the old ones to replace the vinyl ones and to purchase a generator and
the lights on the rail.
In April of
the following year, after seeing no activity that would make the
right, I called Commander Malrose, who denied making such agreements.
he planned to do nothing until the summer of 1990. He was told that we
the lights removed before August 7th, which had been
National lighthouse Day, and that we could live with the windows until
that date. His reply was short and to the point, saying; “I wish
you luck. I
have no plans for the near future to do any of this work.”
Congressman Jone’s office, and talked with Mr. Floyd Lupton, who
said he would
get right on it. At 5:30pm Mr. Lupton called me back to inform me that
generator would be purchased and shipped that day. The battery-operated
would be off before August 7th. He stated that the windows
take longer because they had to be milled.
by Congressman Jone’s office, the generator was replace and the
from the rail, though not in time for the August 7th
for the generator house had to be restored. The old original windows
been reworked and are back in place within the structure. The National
service is to be given credit for this, for it was their restoration
that restored the windows, but I must add that the United States Coast
paid the bill.
This act was
a startling realization of the importance of getting the lighthouse
the control of the National Park Service. Several contacts have been
made in an
attempt to achieve this goal. The Coast Guard is anxious to transfer
structure to the National Park, but they must retain ownership of the
lens at the top, since all aids to navigation are their responsibility.
National Park wants the ownership of the structure but must wait and go
all the government red tape necessary for such a transfer.
I in no way
mean to criticize the U.S. Coast Guard, for they play a most important
the lives of all the Bankers. They risk their lives every day in order
others. Most of the male population of Ocracoke has served in or been a
the Coast Guard or Life Saving Service, or in some way been helped by
service. It is a branch of the military service that we hold in great
admiration and pride.
Guard’s responsibility is to save lives and not historical
structures. It is
for this reason we recommend the lighthouse be placed under the control
National Park, whose main priority is the restoration of such
As of this
printing  the U.S. Coast Guard and Cape Hatteras National
negotiating the possible transfer of title of this, the oldest
the Outer Banks of North Carolina.