Eldred Rock Lighthouse Preservation Association

Anchorage, Alaska (November 11, 2019)The Alaska Association for Historic Preservation (AAHP) announced the awarding of a grant to the Eldred Rock Lighthouse Preservation Association (ERLPA) during their annual meeting of the organization held on November 7.  

This grant is available to current Ten Most Endangered Historic Properties. The ERLPA were listed on the 2019 list announced last May. The lighthouse is located in Lynn Canal just south of Haines in Southeastern Alaska.

Eldred Rock Lighthouse is the oldest original lighthouse in Alaska, built in 1905 and manned by USLHE and USCG crews until 1973. The maritime history of this lighthouse and its resulting status on the National Registry of Historic Places cannot be understated, and it is likely the most photographed and well-known lighthouse in Alaska. After the light was automated and Coast Guard property removed, no personnel has resided in the lighthouse for 46 years.

The structure is alone to suffer neglect and disrepair under harsh weather conditions, with only the occasional visitor to land by boat on its remote shores to explore the cold, crumbling rooms and scribble their names on the walls. Historic photographs, logbooks, and original construction drawings show the maintenance that the lighthouse and outbuildings used to enjoy under the attention of a four-man military crew whose sole purpose was to keep the lighthouse in grand working order.

Sadly, with the twenty-first century budget of the U.S. Coast Guard directed towards resources that are in current use, no attention is now given to the structure or outbuildings. The Coast Guard has only been able to direct enough work to the lighthouse in the years since automation to essentially keep the building standing enough to support an Aids to Navigation minor light in the lamp room, which is an L.E.D. light powered by a solar panel and battery box (see photos).

Even this aid to navigation caused the lighthouse damage when the solar panel that was mounted to the historic wooden cupula railing broke off in a storm and cracked the windows of the lamp room as well as destroying the railing.

Eldred Rock Lighthouse Preservation Association (ERLPA) is gaining a Lease Agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard for a term of 5 years with the option to renew the Lease for three additional five-year terms. During the term of this Lease, ERLPA’s mission is to rehabilitate the lighthouse and other structures, and work through the remediation of contaminants on the property with the USCG so that Eldred Rock Light Station can be eligible for availability through the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000.

The grant will be used to generate an Historic Structure Report (HSR) . The Historic Structure Report will provide a foundation for the rehabilitation, restoration, stabilization and/or reconstruction of Eldred Rock Lighthouse as well as the outbuildings and property of the light station, which is the oldest original lighthouse in Alaska.  This report will follow the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and will provide a clear description of the building’s architectural history: its original appearance, what changes were made and when, and its present condition. In addition, it should provide guidance with respect to any proposed new work.    The grants are matching 50/50 grants. Projects must be completed within the year.