Cultural and Historic Endowment (CCHE) corner: Preserving
structural symbols better show California’s romantic
past than its lighthouses. Once plentiful and necessary
along California’s rugged coastline, the lighthouses,
which “lightkeepers” originally operated, were
gradually automated then closed by the end of the 1970's.
Since that time, high–tech marine warning systems have
replaced lighthouses and their “keepers.”
lighthouse era will live on though, thanks to two
restoration efforts the California Cultural and Historic
Endowment (CCHE) is supporting.
tower - Point Arena Lighthouse saved
California residents may not be aware that Point Arena, a
historical district on the magnificent Mendocino County
coast, is one of California’s smallest incorporated
cities, or that it is home to the tallest lighthouse tower
on the west coast. Point Arena’s soaring 115 foot
lighthouse is perched on a narrow stretch of land high
above the Pacific and its rocky cliffs.
Arena Lighthouse tower with scaffold and the Fog Signal
which will be house the 1st order Fresnel lens.
[Photo courtesy Rae Radtkey]
Lighthouse was first erected in 1870, but the original
tower was destroyed by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
It was rebuilt of concrete and steel in 1907 - the first
to be built of these “modern” materials - and this
tower just celebrated its 100th year of existence. Based
on its significance in the areas of transportation,
architecture and engineering, the light station was added
to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
Arena Lighthouse lens.
[Photo courtesy Rick Allen]
feature of the lighthouse lantern is its “1st Order
Classical Fresnel Lens” which weighs more than 4,000
pounds and is nine feet high by seven feet wide. The lens
was moved from the Lighthouse Tower to the Fog Station
Building for renovation and will be on display in the Fog
Signal Museum Building when the station re-opens to the
public later this year.
restoration work at Point Arena is evidence that the CCHE
and the non-profit Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers, Inc.
are working together to “Save the Light” at Point
Arena Lighthouse project received a $200,000 CCHE planning
grant in round two of funding in 2006 (now completed) and
was awarded a capital project grant in the amount of
$1,209,375 in round three. The planning grant award was
used to lay the ground work for the design, construction
plans and permits for the preservation of two buildings.
The round three project is now well underway and includes
restoration and renovation of the original Fog Signal
Building, as well as the newer Lighthouse Tower, which has
deteriorated after years of deferred maintenance in the
harsh coastal environment.
shining star on California’s central coast - Point San
south, in San Luis Obispo County near Avila Beach, the
picturesque Point San Luis Lighthouse also awaits
renovation. The CCHE gave this capital assets project a
round three reservation of funding in the amount of
$649,228 for the restoration of the Head Keeper’s
Quarters and Light Tower, and the other historical
buildings in the light station complex.
San Luis Lighthouse today after some restoration
[Photo courtesy Dennis Johansen]
The Point San
Luis Lighthouse became operational in 1890, two years
after the “Queen of the Pacific” sank off Point San
Luis. During a peak year in the early 1900's, as many as
nine hundred ships used the harbor that the lighthouse
project’s coordinators, CCHE grantee Point San Luis
Harbor District, and the Point San Luis Lighthouse Keepers
organization, will restore the entire lighthouse site to
its original appearance from the period of its use (1890
to 1949), and share this historical resource with more
central California visitors. Educational exhibits
displayed within the restored buildings will present the
human and natural history of the area when the project is
San Luis Lighthouse in the 1930’s.
[Photo courtesy Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers, Inc.]
information about the CCHE, please contact Kathleen
Cronin at the California State Library at firstname.lastname@example.org