The large weather-worn tower has stood watch over the oceanfront park in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, for over 183 years. A busy boat-building harbor town during the first part of the 19th century, in 1835, John Quincy Adams brought an idea to the US Congress; to build a lighthouse at Ned’s Point.
Leonard Hammond—a local contractor—was selected to construct a 35 foot stone structure (using stone from the shoreline and granite from a local quarry—and was later enlarged to 39 feet high), along with an oil house, lighthouse keeper’s residence, and barn. The project was not Hammond’s first effort, nor his last; before Ned’s Point Light, he and his crew built the ever-popular Gay Head Light on Martha’s Vineyard, later to sail to the Gulf of Mexico and erect two more navigational structures.
Ned’s Point Light’s radiant beam has continuously shined into the darkness fulfilling the charge of protecting seafarers, while at daylight, its presence instills security and comfort; a monument and tribute to the country’s discovery and protection of its people.
The loop that wraps around the structure and the rocky coastline of Buzzards Bay draws hundreds of visitors and tourists from near and far; on any given day—rain or shine. It is a place for picnics, sports, windsurfing, sunsets, and a ton of selfies.
No matter who you ask about Ned’s Point, they will eagerly share a story; some serious, many playful, and quite a few—risqué! As it has been told, many have been conceived, engaged, married, and their ashes spread from various locations at the oceanfront park. It is a place easy to connect with and be
comfortable, for the word Mattapoisett originated from the Wampanoag Tribe, meaning “place of rest.”
Ned’s Point Light may be the most photographed and painted lighthouse in the northeast, frequently appearing in print, hanging on walls, or turned into a long list of memorabilia; the lighthouse image can be found in galleries, shops, and in many homes and offices.
Help Is On The Way
Over time, care and upkeep have been at best—minimal—barely enough to keep the light on; and now, it is in dire need of renovation and preservation.
Decommissioned by the Coast Guard in the 50s, it was reactivated in 1961; the US Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla took over its management about 30 years later.
Siting a need for essential work to be performed on the historical lighthouse, but restricted to the number of resources available, a group of active USCG Auxiliary Staff Officers from the Flotilla 6-3 Marion, and 6-5 Fairhaven, created a non-profit 501(3c) organization, (certified on August 8, 2020), known as Friends of Ned’s Point Lighthouse.
The devoted crew, consisting of Jane Ulewicz (who has led the cause for over 30 years); William Cody; Joe Dawicki; and Salvatore Giglia (a restorative consultant in historical works of art, paintings, and furnishing) made it their mission to raise funds, obtaining donated materials, and secure contracts with certified contractors, to meeting standards set by the USCG and USCG Auxiliary.
In an interview, this past June, Salvatore ‘Sal’ Giglia shared the group’s activities and progress to date, “We estimate the cost of this restorative effort to be approximately $290,000.
So far, we have de-leaded the lamp room and completed the interior of the lamp room and cupola. Brass vent mounts are being restored and vent screens replaced.”
Fundraising began in November of 2020, and to date, $11,000 has been secured. But, it is a big job as Giglia explained, “We need to complete the interior and exterior masonry, metal consolidation, electrical, windows, priming, and painting; also re-install three of the original windows and replace glass in the lamp room due to holes made by a BB or pellet gun.”
An Invitation To The Public
The announcement of the challenging project began as a website, making it known to other lighthouse associations throughout the US and worldwide. Part of creating notoriety was to design a stamp for Ned’s Point Light because the original one had gone missing. Now, part of a nationwide lighthouse passport program, many more visitors come to Mattapoisett to tour the lighthouse and record their experiences of the progress and effort of volunteers. One of the most spectacular aspects of learning about Ned’s Point is listening to a guide explain its history while perched on the surrounding catwalk and enjoy the magnificent views of Buzzards Bay.
Tours are available with donations graciously accepted to ensure Ned’s Point Light will live on for future generations and provide an incredible landmark and special place in our minds, hearts, and fodder for stories yet to be told.
For more information, visit friendsofnedspointlighthouse.com or wow.uscgaux.info/content.php?unit=013-06-03.
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