Preservation Round-Up: The Lighthouses Need Some Love Edition

Posted on: February 4th, 2011 by Jason Clement

Ain't she grand? (Photo: Mark Dodge)

Do you heart lighthouses? 

Hailing from the shore of a bayou (Louisiana representin') rather than an ocean, I'll be honest and say that I don't have too much experience with them. However, that doesn't mean that I'm not utterly mesmerized by the slow-slow-slow-fast, slow-slow-slow-fast spin of their light in the night sky. Or spooked (yet fascinated) by the ghost stories that so many of them lay claim to. Or enamored by how their exquisite architecture manages to communicate both hope and loneliness. 

And I'm sure that I'm not the only one, which was why I was more than a little surprised to see this headline this morning: Lights Out for Lighthouses? 

First, the article points out something we all know as preservationists: These days, there always seems to be another notch in the belt when it comes to tightening money for saving historic places. However, another point about how technology (specifically the onslaught of cheap yet reliable GPS tools) has essentially relegated our country's estimated 10,000 to 12,000 lighthouses to mere sentimental value really made me take pause. 

Jeremy D'Entremont, president of the American Lighthouse Foundation, elaborates: 

These are worrying times for lighthouses. Everyone loves them, but as far as the government is concerned, they're not exactly a spending priority. This leaves little or nothing for upkeep of the buildings themselves. [Without local and/or financial support] many lighthouses are just left to rot. 

There is, however, some good news. Many lighthouses (read: the people who love them) have started thinking outside the box. In fact, the next time you visit your favorite one, you might find that it is now a bed and breakfast, or a gift shop, or a museum, or a...columbarium. 

And with that mental image, let's rocket through some other preservation news before we all get our weekend on. 

Our first stop is the Big Apple, where the New York Public Library has done a fabulous job of documenting a recent face-lift. Swoon! From there, let's breeze on over (har har har) to the Windy City, where six of the city's mayoral candidates have opened up about their stance on historic preservation -- and their favorite buildings. Meanwhile, the good folks in Baltimore are celebrating 200 years of iron work, Dallas is making better blocks (hooray for DIY urbanism), Oklahoma highlights its ruins, Portland might lose some mid-mod treasures, and one Ohio historic district is ordering lots of flowers. Oh, and someone found James Madison's chess set. Score! 

And on a slightly more philosophical level, our Spanish counterparts are calling for active preservation, while others wonder if we could change preservation with sheer kindness. And a quick heads up about terminology: We're calling them intelligent cities these days. 

Now for a quick video about a great project in Los Angeles. I don't know about you, but seeing kid-produced videos on neighborhoods and historic preservation would certainly improve my commute. 


And finally, a few parting shots from Villa Finale, a National Trust Historic Site deep in the heart of Texas that got ever-so-slightly winterized this morning. 


Jason Lloyd Clement is an online content provider for He wants to be a kid again so he can make videos for buses. 

The Preservation Round-Up is the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s twice-weekly digest of preservation news and notes from around the country. Got any tips? Shoot us a link on Twitter or Facebook.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.

News Round-Ups