Historic Lighthouse Receives $ 500,000 Restoration Grant | Greene County

The Hudson-Athens Lighthouse Preservation Society received a $ 500,000 grant from the State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Authority to help restore the aging monument.

The grant will be used to renovate the roof and gutters of the 147-year-old Hudson-Athens Lighthouse to prevent water intrusion and ongoing erosion. The money will help complete the first of a four-phase restoration project estimated to cost between $ 3-4 million.

Built in 1874, the lighthouse stands on the Hudson River between Hudson and Athens to alert boats of shallow water, in an area of ​​the river known as the Middle Ground Flats. Almost 150 years of currents, dredging and the wake of large ships have deteriorated the historic lighthouse and the nearly 200-year-old underwater wooden pilings that support its structure.

“This grant doesn’t give us our 100-year solution, but it’s a start,” said Society Vice President Bob Green. State park funds cover exterior renovations such as a new staircase from the dock to the lighthouse deck, a new marine toilet, and cistern repairs. However, the Company needs to raise funds to repair the underwater timber pilings, a much more expensive renovation. A 2007-08 state park grant provided the Company with a temporary solution by providing enough money to restore only some pilings.

“The OPRHP grant makes it easier for HALPS to raise funds from federal and state funds. And once that happens, it’s easier to get private donations to complete the project, ”said Green, who lives in Stuyvesant and whose background is in financial consulting. A recently completed engineering assessment concluded that without the necessary repairs, the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse will not survive.

Van Calhoun, chairman of the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse Restoration Committee and self-taught architect, estimates that the entire restoration project will be completed by the end of 2024. “We have to complete the 100-year patch,” a he declared. “If we don’t do anything in 10 to 15 years, people won’t be able to get there safely and the US Coast Guard will put a metal pole with a light in its place.”

Calhoun believes that most of the basic wooden pilings that hold the lighthouse above the water are in good condition because they are covered with river mud which prevents the water from oxidizing the wood.

“It doesn’t sink, it moves,” he said.

Calhoun also predicts that it will take at least nine months for construction to begin on the above water portion of the renovation project. And, by the end of 2024, a steel curtain wall will likely surround the lighthouse slightly above the expected high water level.

The lighthouse will sit atop its mighty stone block structure, but the underwater steel curtain wall will surround the wooden pilings and be strong enough to withstand high tide under a full moon in 50 years, said Calhoun.

Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggests that high tide in 50 years could be 3 to 4 feet higher than current levels. If the Company meets its funding goals for a complete lighthouse restoration, it will be able to tolerate erosion from weather and river currents longer before it needs further renovations.

Today, a green light atop the lighthouse monitored by the US Coast Guard and powered by solar panels flashes every 8 seconds to alert ships passing shallow land. In 1949, lighthouse maintenance slowed down when the need for an on-site lighthouse keeper became redundant due to the installation of automatic lighting.

Then, in 1982, concerned citizens created the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse Preservation Society in an attempt to save the structure. The lighthouse is listed on both the National Register and the New York State Register of Historic Places.

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