Highland Light in North Truro is scheduled to reopen soon after extensive renovations.
Officials with the Cape Cod National Seashore announced that they expect the lighthouse and keeper’s retail shop to reopen mid-April for the 2019 season ahead of $1.2 million in planned repairs.
This effort marks the first major rehabilitation project on the structure since it was conveyed to the National Park Service by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1997.
Several years of analysis by preservation engineers and specialists determined that excessive moisture due to changes to the tower’s ventilation system caused accelerated deterioration of the lighthouse.
The rehabilitation project called for venting to be established, masonry to be repaired, the removal of the current exterior coating and the application of a new breathable coating, windows to be replaced, the repair of corroded elements of the structure, and other safety improvements.
Three rings of masonry walls and air space critical to its design in 1857 were filled with cement-like material to provide stability to the lighthouse when it was relocated away from the eroding cliff in 1996.
This, coupled with multiple layers of non-breathable coating added to the exterior significantly reduced the structure’s venting, causing excessive moisture buildup. This moisture buildup eventually corroded most of the structure’s metal components and heavily deteriorated the masonry tower.
Ventilation was a critical design element of the 1857 lighthouse. Three rings of masonry walls and air space in the lower tower area facilitated air being drawn up toward the vent at the top of the lighthouse. When the lighthouse was relocated back from the eroding cliff in 1996, these air spaces were filled with a cement-like material to provide stability during the move.
The project was funded by National Park Service funds aimed at reducing the agency’s deferred maintenance backlog.
Highland Lighthouse is Cape Cod’s oldest and tallest lighthouse. The first lighthouse built
in 1797, was commissioned by George Washington. The second lighthouse, built in 1831,
was visited by Henry David Thoreau. The present-day lighthouse was built in 1857, and was
the subject of a painting by Edward Hopper. In 1996, the lighthouse was moved 450 feet from edge of the cliff.
Click here for a photo tour of the lighthouse