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Nobska Light Shines On, Renovations To Come

Travis Bubenik
Nobska Light in Woods Hole will continue to signal sailors as a non-profit organization takes on the historic building's maintenance and renovation needs.
Credit Travis Bubenik
(L to R) State Sen. Vinny deMacedo, U.S. Rep. Bill Keating, Coast Guard Sector Commander Capt. John Kondratowitcz and Falmouth Selectman Doug Jones listen to remarks from Falmouth Town Manager Julian Cuso. 

The historic Nobska Light in Woods Hole was officially transferred to the care of the Town of Falmouth and a local non-profit on Monday, at a ceremony attended by community leaders, politicians and Coast Guard officials.

A sea shanty about spotting Nobska Light and heading up the channel to New Bedford opened the celebration of an effort to preserve the lighthouse after the Coast Guard announced a plan to sell it back in 2014.

The Coast Guard has licensed the light to the Town of Falmouth, but the newly-formed non-profit Friends of Nobska Light will maintain and renovate the lighthouse and its keeper’s building as a public historic site.

Brian Nickerson, the group’s president, said he’s confident the group can raise the $1 million needed this year to renovate the lighthouse according to historical preservation standards.

But in the meantime, they’ll start with the simple stuff.

“We’re gonna paint the fences,” Nickerson said, with a joking nod to the long road ahead. “You know, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

The Coast Guard will still use and maintain the light to help ships navigate the often-treacherous waters of Vineyard Sound. Coast Guard Sector Commander Captain John Kondratowicz praised what he called the “partnership” that made the transfer to the community possible.

“It actually opens up the facility so that the public gets to see what it was like living in a lighthouse, being the keeper of a lighthouse,” he said. “That’s an opportunity that really, not many get that opportunity to do.”

Congressman Bill Keating and State Senator Vinny deMacedo also celebrated the occasion. Falmouth Selectman Doug Jones described the lighthouse as a “symbol of what it means to be a marine community.”

Credit Travis Bubenik
A small crowd gathers for a ceremonial transferring of the lighthouse key from the Coast Guard to the Falmouth community on Monday.

That community closed Monday’s ceremony with a quiet rendition of “America, the Beautiful”, whose lyrics seemed all the more prescient sung next to a lighthouse built in 1876 - one now on the road to being preserved for years to come.