Recently, more than a hundred residents of Woods Hole and Falmouth came together to explore options for the future of the historic Nobska Lighthouse. The Coast Guard is looking to transfer ownership of the property to the town, or to a qualified non-profit group. The process is complex, and will require a large commitment of both time and money from whoever eventually takes over.
“It is an icon to the community. It is something that we all love,” said Catherine Bumpus, Woods Hole Community Association co-President and host of the meeting.
The Coast Guard recently discovered rot, plumbing leaks and heating issues at the keeper’s residence next to the iconic lighthouse. They estimate it would cost $550,000 to make necessary repairs, and are looking to transfer ownership of the property to a municipality or non-profit group. That process could take years to complete. Bumpus said the good news is that Nobska Light was added to the National Historic Register in 1987.
“So the concern that we would have to go out and prevent it from becoming a 5-story condo complex on the point – that is not going to happen, it is never going to happen,” said Bumpus.
Whoever steps forward will face a complex application and vetting process, but no upfront purchase cost.
“It would go for free. It’s a free puppy, though,” Bumpus remarked.
The new owner would need to handle ongoing maintenance like painting, and keeping the metal work in good shape. No matter who ends up with the property, though, the Coast Guard will continue to maintain the beacon inside the tower, as long as it remains an aid to navigation.
Following a slide-show presentation, Bumpus asked for suggestions about how Nobska Light might be used in the future. Audience members floated a number of ideas, such as creating a lighthouse museum, or turning the property into an artist’s retreat.
After the meeting, Troy Clarkson said he was glad to see so many people taking an interest in the process so early on.
“Today is what Falmouth does,” Clarkson said. “It’s a great demonstration of community, of passion for the historical preservation of one of the icons of this community. So it’s a very encouraging start to a long and detailed process, but I think the attendance today bodes well for the future of the process.”
Barbara Milligan said the Falmouth community has come together like this before.
“It just speaks to what Falmouth is all about – that you can get a roomful of people on a Saturday morning in March to talk about something that’s gonna be 3 or 4 years down the road,” Millington said. “But just like Highfield Hall, this community got together to save Highfield, and I think they’ll do the same thing for Nobska.”
Although nothing specific was decided at the meeting, the general consensus was that Nobska Light should be preserved for the enjoyment of all. And residents seemed willing to explore any viable option to make that happen.