An idea to restore the lighthouse keeper’s house at the tip of Cape Cod has picked up steam. The idea, put forth by resident Paul Mendes, has attracted the attention of architectural conservator Ginny Bender, also a resident, who has agreed to spearhead an effort to gain permission and attract funding to rebuild the Long Point Lighthouse keeper’s house as a tourist attraction.
An idea to restore the lighthouse keeper’s house at the tip of Cape Cod has picked up steam.
The idea, put forth by resident Paul Mendes, has attracted the attention of architectural conservator Ginny Bender, also a resident, who has agreed to spearhead an effort to gain permission and attract funding to rebuild the Long Point Lighthouse keeper’s house as a tourist attraction.
Tourism director Bob Sanborn is also giving the project a boost by spreading the word to people who might be interested in helping out. And Selectman Austin Knight signed on to take a tour set up by Mendes to Race Point Lighthouse to look at its keeper’s house, which is currently rented out to overnight visitors through a program run by the Race Point Light Association.
“I think it’s great,” Knight said about the idea of restoring Long Point, although he acknowledged that the effort faces hurdles. “[Selectmen] can write letters of support. It’s good for the tourists and it just brings back history.”
Binder said Sanborn brought her to Mendes’ attention because of her experience in preserving historical sites, including consulting work she has done for the Cape Cod National Seashore and her efforts to preserve and manage two dune shacks on the seashore. While she is still developing a game plan to assess the challenges in rebuilding the site and renting it to overnight guests, Binder said the idea will be to connect people with their heritage.
But restoring the site will be as important to residents as visitors, she said.
“This is about a living history. So much of our history comes from walking that beach, guarding the shores. Long Point Light is one of the most iconic images in Provincetown. If we don’t retain the history of it, it will be lost,” she said.
Sanborn said it will take a grassroots effort to get people interested in rebuilding the keeper’s house and installing some sort of interactive historical exhibits or tours of the site. Currently the U.S. Coast Guard controls all three lighthouses in Provincetown, though its lease is set to expire in 2015. At that point the property could be turned over to the federal government as part of the National Seashore.
But Sanborn said that Binder “has a good track record” of developing historical preservation plans.
“If it comes to fruition, it would be a great draw for tourists. It’s the gateway to the harbor. It’s the viewpoint for virtually anywhere along Commercial Street. And it is literally at the Cape tip,” he said.
Mendes said he is in the process of organizing volunteers to explore rebuilding the lighthouse keeper’s house. The idea would be to set up a program to rent the keeper’s house to overnight guests, similar to the program at Race Point Lighthouse that Mendes managed in the past, allowing the landmark to serve as a historical and educational site and to preserve a way of life that served Cape Cod waters for generations.
Provincetown Banner writer Pru Sowers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org