2006-06-22 / News

Plans for Dutch Island Lighthouse renovation revealed

By Sam Bari

A late 19th-century photo of Dutch Island Lighthouse and the caretaker's residence. A late 19th-century photo of Dutch Island Lighthouse and the caretaker's residence. Ken Newman, chairman of the Dutch Island Lighthouse Society, hosted a presentation and informational discussion concerning the planned restoration of the Dutch Island Lighthouse at the library last week.

Preservationist and planner Arnold Robinson and Richard Ventrone, Jr., the architect from Newport Collaborative Architects designing the restoration, gave a detailed slide presentation of their plans for the rehabilitation of the structure as well as an in-depth overview of the firm's past projects.

Ventrone has been involved in the restoration of lighthouses at Sakonnet Point, Rose Island, Beavertail, and Plum Beach.

The restoration of the Plum Beach Lighthouse after 60 years of neglect is of particular significance because it won the prestigious Preservation Award from the Rhode Island Historic Preservation and Heritage Commission in 2004. The lighthouse also won the Design Award from the American Institute of Architects Rhode Island that same year.

The June 15 presentation gave Ventrone an opportunity to showcase his preliminary drawings and design ideas for the upcoming restoration of the Dutch Island Lighthouse. The firm will bid the project with Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, of Watertown, Mass., one of the country's largest and New England's most prestigious engineering firms.

The proposed rehabilitation plan of Dutch Island Lighthouse. The proposed rehabilitation plan of Dutch Island Lighthouse. The restoration of the Dutch Island Lighthouse is being partially funded by an Intermodal Surface Transportation, or ISTEA, grant for $120,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation administered through the state DOT.

If all goes as planned, the funds for the project will be available in September of this year from the fiscal 2007 budget. Additional funding is being provided by donations to the Dutch Island Lighthouse Society.

Although $90,000 has been raised for the project by the lighthouse society, an additional $150,000 is needed for completion and maintenance. The society plans to hold a fundraiser on Aug. 13 for this purpose.

Dutch Island is now owned and managed by the state Department of Environmental Management, while the lighthouse is still owned by the U.S. Coast Guard. The use of the lighthouse was discontinued in 1979 and the structure has been abandoned ever since. All that remains is the roofless concrete building and the remains of a cistern. In April of 2000, the American Lighthouse Foundation obtained a lease from the Coast Guard for the remains of the 42-foot brick structure. The Dutch Island Lighthouse Society is anticipating spring of 2007 for the complete restoration of the historic lighthouse tower and the relighting of the light. All donations to the project will be used solely for the restoration and preservation of the lighthouse and its history.

This year Newport Collaborative Architects is celebrating its 25th year in business. Founded in 1981, NCA is Rhode Island's largest architectural firm. They are renowned for their expertise in historical preservation and have been actively involved with the preservation and reuse of historic buildings, including private residences, mill conversions, hotels, theaters, and lighthouses.

Each project was completed in accordance with guidelines for historically significant buildings set by local, state, and federal agencies. Many have been recognized with awards for their historic accuracy and creativity, and have reaped the benefits of the Historic Tax Credit Program as well.

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