Every year since 2003, the volunteer docents and Friends of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse open Pemaquid Point Lighthouse tower to the public. One can climb the 30 steps of the spiral staircase and continue up the ladder to enter the lamp room for expansive views of Monhegan Island and the rocky coast. One can enjoy this opportunity to learn about the lighthouse’s rich history and if one is over 4 feet tall, one can climb to the lamp room at the top. The tower is open seven days a week from Mother’s Day through mid-October, weather permitting.
The Pemaquid Point Lighthouse was chosen by the people of Maine to be depicted on the Maine state quarter released in 2003. A celebration of the quarter was held in Lighthouse Park in Bristol and that was the first year the lighthouse tower was open to the public. An excerpt from lighthousefriends.com states that “Pemaquid Point Lighthouse is the only place in the United States where you can tour Maine’s first land-based lighthouse opened to the public, get married, spend your honeymoon, and pay for it all using the only U.S. money ever to bear the image of a lighthouse.”
The Friends of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse is a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation based at Owls Head Lighthouse. With the help of a volunteer team and J.B. Leslie Co. Inc., the Pemaquid tower has undergone hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of restoration over the past 11 years. The exterior was stripped of all coatings, granite was repointed and painted, the interior bricks were repointed, the lantern’s ironwork was repaired and painted, windows and a door were replaced, and other cosmetic restorations were done.
These projects were funded by grants and donations from the many generous visitors to the tower. Of course, none of this work could have happened without the daily commitment of the volunteer docents. Dedicated volunteers give four hours each week or every other week to be docents at the lighthouse tower. Their reliable attendance in opening the tower and overseeing the safety of the visitors creates the opportunity to receive the donations that support this lighthouse. A free lobster dinner is planned every year to thank each volunteer and a significant other.
There is always a need for more docents and alternates who can fill in when requested. This year, more than ever, the need is great. All that is required is to enjoy people, learn the safety rules, and share a little history with the visitors. As a docent, one will train and learn from a seasoned docent and take one’s place among the best of lighthouse docents around. There is also a need for alternate docents, those not ready to commit week after week. If a regular docent is sick or otherwise unable to take a shift, the alternates are called in to make sure the lighthouse is open as advertised. To join this group of volunteers hosting 32,000-plus visitors per year in the tower, contact Marty Welt at 563-2739. To visit the lighthouse, it is free once one is in the park.