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Friends of Pomham Rocks Lighthouse Endowment
By Jean Cohoon / December 18, 2018 /   Loading Disqus...

For more than 100 years - from 1871 to 1974 - Pomham Rocks Lighthouse served as an active aid to navigation and was a familiar landmark for all who traveled the upper part of Narragansett Bay. But the Light went dark in 1974 and remained so for the next 32 years, as the Lighthouse - registered on the National Register of Historic Places - slowly began to crumble with time.

Friends of Pomham Rocks Lighthouse, a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation, was formed in 2004 for the purpose of restoring and maintaining the Lighthouse. The Friends completed the restoration of the exterior of the Lighthouse in 2006 when the Lighthouse again became an active aid to navigation, electric power was restored to the Lighthouse in 2016, and the interior work was completed in 2018.

"It is absolutely amazing, the conversion of that place," says Mike Tripp, treasurer of the Friends. "Everything was so complicated. For example, the electrical work involved running a specially made underwater cable installed by divers that ran from the mainland under Narragansett Bay to the island Lighthouse."

The interior renovation work was guided by a Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission grant that required an early 1950's décor. "The kitchen is a classic part of the Lighthouse. When you walk in there, it's the 1950's," Mike explains.

Nate Chace, a board member charged with raising funds during the 14-year renovation effort, recalls fallen ceilings, collapsed stairs, and rotted wood. "We raised in excess of $1.2 million, and we've had a lot of good corporate friends that have helped us," Nate said, citing the pro bono efforts of the project manager, Gilbane Building Company; a next-door neighbor, ExxonMobil; and Abcore Restoration, the company that did the physical work of restoring the exterior and interior of the Lighthouse.

As the Friends' mission changes from renovation to maintenance, Nate states, "I want to assure the Lighthouse viability, and having an endowment is the best way to do it. Partnering with the (Rhode Island) Foundation was a natural. It was the easiest decision in the world."

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