Cape Cod National Seashore Planning Highland Light Rehab Project

TRURO – An extensive rehabilitation of Highland Light in Truro will begin later this fall.

Highland Light is one of the Cape Cod National Seashore’s most iconic historic structures. Over 30,000 people climbed the light and visited the Keeper’s Shop and exhibits in 2018.

This will be the first major rehabilitation project at the lighthouse since the United States Coast Guard conveyed it to the National Park Service in 1998.

The condition of the lighthouse has deteriorated quickly due to excessive moisture caused by changes to the tower’s ventilation system when it was moved away from the eroding bluff in 1996.

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, the air spaces were filled with a cement-like material to provide stability during the move.

This action, combined with layers of non-breathable coatings applied to the exterior, significantly reduced venting, promoting excessive moisture, and causing deterioration to the masonry tower and corrosion to its metal components.

“We are reestablishing ventilation that goes through the lighthouse tower. We are going to be repairing some bricks and repairing some of the mortar,” said Seashore Superintendent Brian Carlstrom.

“And we are going to be re-coating it so that it will be in much better condition than it currently is.”

Carlstrom said Highland Light will be more resilient and have the air flow through it that it initially had.

The lighthouse will be closed for a year once the work begins. Carlstrom said a specific start date for the project has not yet been set by the contractor.

The Keeper’s House with the bookstore will remain open, along with the observation platform, which is where the lighthouse used to be located.

Carlstrom said the public will probably not notice much of a difference when the work is completed.

“There might be a little bit more air flow when they go up to the top,” Carlstrom said. “The intent is to keep it so it looks the same so it has the same historic integrity.”

The project is funded by National Park Service funds aimed at reducing the agency’s deferred maintenance backlog.

Once the contract start date is determined, announcements will be made via social media, the National Seashore’s website, and Eastern National’s Highland Light website.

“It’s the oldest lighthouse on the Cape. It’s the largest one. And we want to make sure we are doing our job to maintain it,” Carlstrom said.

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant grew up in Central Massachusetts and now lives in South Dennis on the Cape. He has been part of the news team in the CapeCod.com NewsCenter since the spring of 2014. He studied radio broadcasting at the University of Tennessee.



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