OSWEGO LIGHTHOUSE – Standing on the south deck of the Oswego West Pierhead Lighthouse, Mayor Billy Barlow announced today (June 21) $75,000 in funding from the city of Oswego’s New York State LWRP grant award in 2016 to fund an exterior paint job for the landmark in the Oswego Harbor.
A large crowd was on hand for the announcement, including representatives of city, county and state government, volunteers and the general public.
The painting of the lighthouse is one of four projects to have received funding from the 2016 grant award as is part of the city’s comprehensive waterfront revitalization plan, the mayor said.
The Oswego Lighthouse is owned by the city and leased by the H. Lee White Maritime Museum.
In 2010, a group of volunteers formed the Lighthouse Development Committee and have renovated the interior of the lighthouse.
The museum now offers public tours of the lighthouse including a boat ride across the Oswego Harbor in an effort to promote the lighthouse and the recent work done by the committee of volunteers.
“I am proud to allocate $75,000 in funding to supplement the enormous amount of effort given by the volunteer members of the Oswego Lighthouse Development Committee and the work done by the H. Lee White Maritime Museum to paint the exterior of our lighthouse and restore it to proper condition,” the mayor said. “The Oswego lighthouse is an iconic monument and is symbolic to the city of Oswego. Oswego residents take pride in our lighthouse and we owe it to our entire community to preserve this treasure the best we can so we can continue to promote and capitalize on this very unique asset in our harbor.”
“We are committed to truly reviving our waterfront and the historic Oswego Lighthouse is an important component to our comprehensive waterfront revitalization plan,” he added.
The mayor recognized Executive Director of the H. Lee White Maritime Museum Mercedes Niess and the many volunteers who have spent the last few years restoring the interior of the lighthouse.
“They have done a remarkable job with the interior of the lighthouse already,” he said.
“We are honored to serve as the stewards of the Oswego Lighthouse. This has been an exciting endeavor to care for this historic structure which serves as a beacon of our community and we hope to help maintain it for years to come,” Niess said. “We appreciate the recent support and allocation from Mayor Billy Barlow and the city of Oswego and it will certainly go a long way to ensure we maintain our current momentum with our restoration efforts. It is encouraging to know the city recognizes how important the Oswego light house is to our community.”
The city hasn’t taken advantage of its position on the waterfront, the mayor said. After taking office in 2016, one of his main goals was to capitalize on the waterfront, he said.
“For decades, we never realized what we had in the waterfront and lighthouse. We owe it to the community to restore and maintain the iconic lighthouse. Starting now you won’t be able to say Oswego under-utilizes its waterfront.”
Shane Broadwell, chair of the Oswego County Legislature, recognized everyone helping to restore the lighthouse.
It’s all a part of a lot of other actions under way in the Port City, he said citing the push to create a National Marine Sanctuary and elevate Fort Ontario/Safe Haven to National Park status.
Legislator Terry Wilbur represented Assemblyman Will Barclay.
“He said it was an honor and a privilege to help fund the structural work going on here,” Wilbur said. “He knows the importance of this iconic site; not just for the city of Oswego or county of Oswego but Central New York as a whole. The possibilities are endless. It will bring tourism back to life.”
“Today we’re here to recognize the historical significance of the West Pierhead Lighthouse and its inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places,” said Susan Hughes of the William J. Pomeroy Foundation. “Being able to work to preserve history is very important to the Pomeroy Foundation. We believe that these markers help educate the public, encourage pride of place, promote historic tourism and economically benefit he communities in which they are placed.”
“There’s still a lot of work to day,” Niess admitted. “Our people are doing the interior. But, we unable to handle the exterior, that’s got to be done by professionals. We are honored and privileged to serve as the stewards of the lighthouse on behalf of this community.”
It was then-mayor Randy Bateman who cast the deciding vote to take ownership of the lighthouse several years ago, Niess pointed out. Another city official, Francis Culkin, served from 1928 to 1943 and was the one who secured the funds to build the lighthouse and the Breakwall, she added.
“So, we are honoring a legacy that was started a long time ago,” she said.
Bids for the exterior painting work will go out soon and the mayor said he hopes to have the contractor on the job by this fall or early 2019.
The $75,000 is in addition to the $100,000 already pledged by Assemblyman Will Barclay.
The Oswego Lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000 and in 2010 the Oswego Lighthouse Development Committee was created to begin formulating and executing a plan to restore and renovate the lighthouse for tourism opportunities.
Public tours of the lighthouse are available for $20 per person including a boat ride to the lighthouse and free admission to the Maritime Museum with proceeds from the tours going towards the restoration efforts.
Tours are available Fridays and Saturdays from 1:30 – 4 p.m. through the H. Lee White Maritime Museum.
Tickets can be purchased at the museum.
The H. Lee White Maritime Museum is located at 1 W. First St. in Oswego and can be reached at 315-342-0480 or www.hlwmm.org