Author and lighthouse conservationist Robert Müller outlined the importance of Long Island’s many lighthouses on Monday night as Stepping Stone Lighthouse begins its first steps towards restoration.
The presentation, hosted by the Great Neck Historical Society, came as engineers prepare to examine the foundations and building of Stepping Stone Lighthouse. The Town of North Hempstead also recently allocated $520,000 in its 2017-2021 capital plan toward creating a dock and a pier so restoration efforts are possible.
Robert Lincoln, a commissioner of the Great Neck Park District and chair of the Lighthouse Restoration Committee of the Great Neck Historical Society, said that events like these show the history behind lighthouses and why they matter.
“Every one of these places has a story,” Lincoln said.
Müller explored the history, building and folklore revolving around lighthouses from Kings Point and Port Washington to Hell’s Gate and Montauk. Execution Lighthouse in Port Washington, for example, got its name from stories that people would be bound to the rocks so they would drown with the higher tides, Müller said.
He said that the importance of lighthouses has been underestimated. Long Island Sound had treacherous waters and the North Shore’s lighthouses were pivotal for navigating the area, he said.
“A lot of the economy of the early colonies and early America was between New York and Boston, so this was a very important area,” Müller said.
He also highlighted the restoration of a few lighthouses like the Little Bug Lighthouse in Greenport, as well as how many had survived, in one form or another, for decades.
Currently, the Great Neck Park District, Great Neck Historical Society and Town of North Hempstead are working together to try and restore Stepping Stone Lighthouse. While it is in no danger of falling down, Müller showed pictures of how deteriorated the inside is.
Alice Kasten, president of the Great Neck Historical Society, said that she appreciated every aspect of the event.
“Bringing awareness to lighthouses has to help us all,” Kasten said. “I think it’s very uplifting that Müller told stories of other lighthouses being restored and we certainly hope Stepping Stone Lighthouse will follow in that same path.”