An effort to preserve the historic Plum Island Lighthouse has received a major funding boost to the tune of $1.5 million.
Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) announced Tuesday that the Department of Homeland Security and United States Army Corps of Engineers will jointly fund repairs to the structure to stabilize iron work at the door and very top of the lighthouse.
According to Southold Town Historic Preservation Commission chair Ted Webb, years of neglect as well as the natural elements have led to the lighthouse’s “poor condition.”
In a statement, Mr. Webb said the announcement was a “good preliminary step in efforts to rehabilitate and preserve this irreplaceable part of American history.”
The lighthouse, originally constructed in 1827, was rebuilt in 1869. It was ultimately decommissioned in 1978 after guiding mariners through Plum Gut for 100 years.
Mr. Webb noted that several years ago, the cliff in front of the lighthouse was stabilized with granite boulders.
Mr. Zeldin has made protecting Plum Island a tenet of his three terms in Congress. He has introduced several pieces of legislation in an attempt to block the sale of Plum Island by the federal government to a private entity.
“Instead of selling Plum Island and its unrivaled history off to the highest bidder, we must invest in its future by committing to protecting its past and restoring the Plum Island Lighthouse,” he said in a statement, noting that the funding is a “critical step” in stabilizing its future.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell expressed gratitude for Mr. Zeldin’s advocacy and referred to the lighthouse as a historic treasure.
“The fate of the lighthouse had been a great concern given the uncertainty of the future of Plum Island,” Mr. Russell said.
One of eight lighthouses within Southold Town, Plum Island Lighthouse is listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places.
Work on the project is expected to be completed by December 2020, Mr. Zeldin said.