The lighthouse is closed for climbing and will reopen in early April. Visitors may walk to the base of the lighthouse from the visitors center or (during paving) use the handicapped parking access road, directly across from the Bateman Center.
Over the last decade, CNHA has led the effort to permanently restore and protect the Assateague Lighthouse. Here's a bit of that story.
From Lou Hinds, former refuge manager, 2009
The long anticipated restoration of the Assateague Lighthouse began in February . The work is being conducted by International Chimney Corporation (ICC) under a contract with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and funded by the Chincoteague Natural History Association and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.
It was agreed by all parties the most urgent restoration work needed to be directed towards the lower gallery deck. The goal of this effort was to bring the gallery deck back to like new condition and to allow the visiting public access “outside the lighthouse” on the deck. Under the watchful eye of Steve Scyoc, the restoration team leader for ICC, the work began by methodically removing the handrails, deck plates, bricks and support brackets of the gallery deck. This was not an easy task since the majority of the work was completed 125 feet in the air and the safety of the team and refuge visitor was always in mind.
Each of the cast iron metal deck plates and supports were lowered to the ground where they were examined for structural integrity; cleaned to bare metal; repaired if necessary; and then coated with a rust preventative. As the metal restoration work commenced, it was truly impressive to watch these specialists apply their trades and restore each component of the deck. The last step of the process was to hoist the supports and deck plates back to the top the lighthouse where they were reinstalled with the finished product being historically correct and looking great.
While dismantling the handrails it was noted that the metal comprising the handrails was of a more modern type and not consistent with the period in which the lighthouse was built. Additionally, the height of the handrails and the spacing of the spindles did not meet current safety standards for public access. Due to these factors, it was decided to not reinstall the handrails that had been removed. Instead, the Regional Office working with ICC and the State of Virginia Historic Preservation Officer designed a handrail system that will look historically correct and meet current safety standards allowing for public access to the deck. As of this writing, work has temporarily ceased on the Assateague Lighthouse while the contractor waits for the new hand rails to be fabricated. However, the restoration work of the lower gallery deck is expected to be completed by late June with a ribbon cutting ceremony to follow shortly thereafter.
The total cost for the gallery deck restoration was just under $400,000. ICC has provided an interesting proposal to start the second phase “lantern room restoration.” This phase of the project would provide a water tight environment for the inside of the lighthouse. To undertake this work at this time could save as much as $35,000 on the cost of restoration. CNHA and the Refuge are looking into this opportunity.
What We've Achieved
- Restoration and preservation of the keeper's watch room.
- Repair of the lantern room roof and replacement of windows.
- Upper catwalk restoration.
- Deck repair.
- Deck railing redesign to period specs and rebuilt to safety standards.
- Resurface of column.
- Painted to match Coast Guard designated daymark.
- Fund for continuing maintenance.