Local News

Efforts Under Way to Restore Bodie Island Lighthouse

Posted July 12, 2001 7:40 a.m. EDT

— As problems surface at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the

Bodie Island Lighthouse

finds its minimal funding threatened.

The lighthouse is in serious disrepair and is closed to the public for climbing.

Recently, Senator John Edwards headed an effort that added $287,000 to the budget for lighthouse renovations. But that is just a fraction of what is needed to save the beacon.

The Bodie Island Lighthouse is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse's humble cousin up the coast. It is not as tall or as old, but for many, it is a favorite.

"I'm prejudiced. I think of all the buildings that need saving, particularly in Dare County, Bodie is the most beautiful. It is a classic light station," says Bruce Roberts, a photographer and founding member of the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society.

Roberts has seen time and the elements take their toll on the light. Rust eats away at most of the metal; the gallery at the top and the stairs that lead to it are falling apart.

"In fact, there have been chunks of it that have fallen off. It is exposed to salt air, and it has never had any major repairs," he says.

Like the beautiful lens that focuses the beacon's beam, Roberts' group is concentrating its attention on Bodie.

The lighthouse society plans a major fund-raising campaign.

"We hope that we can assist with getting the Bodie Island lighthouse restored," he says. "We have to look ahead. In a year or two we're going to be looking for a couple of million dollars to really do the work."

National Park Service officials estimate a price tag of $1.7 million to restore the lighthouse. That is a fraction of the cost of the massive move of the Cape Light two years ago.

Now Bodie is in the spotlight.

"Bodie Island is just as much a lighthouse as Hatteras, and in some ways a more perfect example because of the Fresnel lens, because of the keepers house, because of the setting," says Roberts.

Roberts says it is a setting and a sentinel worth saving.

While the metal portions of the lighthouse are rusting away, Park Service officials say that the basic brick structure is in strong shape.

Unlike the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Bodie will not have to be moved.