Bass Harbor Head Light Station. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Lightkeeper’s house is a home this summer

ACADIA NAT’L PARK — For the first time in 10 years, the lights are on at night in the lightkeeper’s house at the historic Bass Harbor Head Light Station. 

Two volunteers are living there this summer. They are doing light maintenance work and informally talking with visitors about the history of the light station. 

Neither the lighthouse nor any of the keeper’s house is open to the public. 

The last occupant of the keeper’s house was the commander of the Coast Guard Station in Southwest Harbor. In 2017, the Coast Guard offered to give the light station – which includes the lighthouse, lightkeeper’s house, three smaller buildings and 2.5 acres of land – to the National Park Service. The transfer was completed in 2020. 

The lighthouse and keeper’s house, which were built in 1858, were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. The light at the top of the lighthouse, which the Coast Guard still operates as an aid to navigation, was automated in 1974. 

Acadia officials are in the process of determining the best long-term use for the light station. In the meantime, Superintendent Kevin Schneider said it is good to have someone living there again. 

“Historic buildings that are utilized and lived in are historic buildings that are preserved,” he said. 

Keith Johnston, Acadia’s chief of facilities management, said a lot of repair work was done inside the keeper’s house this past winter to get it ready for occupancy. 

“Now we can have somebody helping out with sharing the story of the light [station] and helping folks navigate that space,” he said. 

The Bass Harbor Head Light Station is one of the most popular sites in Acadia. Over the first eight months of 2021, the number of estimated visits to the park as a whole was up 22 percent over the same period the year before. The light station saw a 36 percent increase in visitation. 

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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