Fire Island Lighthouse
Fire Island Light
THE NEWSLETTER OF THE FIRE ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE PRESERVATION SOCIETY
FIRE ISLAND PRESERVATION SOCIETY INC.
4640 CAPTREE ISLAND, CAPTREE ISLAND, NEW YORK 11702-4601
PHONE: (631) 321-7028 OR (631) 661-4876 Fax: (631) 321-7033
CREATED TO EDUCATE OUR COMMUNITY ABOUT I TS MARITIME HERI TAGE
Notes from the President’s Desk
by: Robert La Rosa
30th Anniversary of the Preservation Society
Thirty years ago the Fire Island Lighthouse was dark, the light had been turned off in 1974 and the Coast
Guard said that the structure was “unsafe and beyond preservation.” There was talk that it should be torn
down like the Shinnecock light was (same size lighthouse) some years before. There were many people in
the area who felt this should not happen. As the story goes, Tom Roberts also felt that way and one day his
wife told him if he really cared he should do something about it. Tom was able to mobilize other local and
prominent people who felt the same and in November of 1982 the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society (FILPS) was formed. The accomplishments of this group were amazing:
Transfer of the Lighthouse to the National Park Service.
Listing on register of National Historic Sites.
Assembling a multitude of prominent Long Islanders to raise funds.
Raising $1.2 million in donations to re-light the lighthouse in May 1986.
Inclusion of the Fire Island Lighthouse on official maritime charts.
Working with FINS to secure funding for boardwalks & access to the Lighthouse.
Raising additional funds to complete the Tower renovation (funds not used were put in an endowment
By 1988, the Fire Island National Seashore visitor center was open. Initially the Lighthouse was open 5
days a week during the summer months. This was expanded to handle school groups in the Spring and Fall.
Over the next few years the funding for FINS to keep the visitor Center open was scarce. In 1994 FINS Superintendent Jack Haupman asked the Society if they would be willing to operate the Lighthouse for the National Seashore. After two years of negotiating, in December 1996 an agreement was signed and in 1997
the Society began the task of operating the facility. Within two years the operation included being open 7
days a week and eventually all year round. School groups were handled all year round. Income came from
fund raising events, gift shop, school group fees and tower tour fees. The main key to the success was the
use of volunteers. The entire school program was operated by volunteers. The Society recognized that giving volunteers responsibilities, full utilization and catering to their needs was the secret. The FILPS payroll
remained small with only 3 to 4 full time employees and some seasonal people, the rest were to be volunteers.
Visitation climbed each year and by 2008 it was 127,000. In the year 2000, the original Fresnel Lens that
was on display in the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia was removed from public view. FILPS contacted
the Coast Guard who owns the light and indicated that we would like to have the Lens back. In July 2011
the 1858 light was restored by FINS and put in the new building provided by FILPS. In 2006 the Coast
Guard wanted to remove the present tower beacon and replace it with a small Vega light. This light would
not provide as much light and we would have lost the beam that is presently emitted from the tower. Again
volunteers stepped up and took over maintaining the light.
A great deal has been accomplished in the past 30 years. We now have a year round complex that includes
the Lighthouse, Keeper’s Quarters, Lens Building and Boathouse. Visit the Lighthouse this year and help
us celebrate our anniversary.
Fire Island Light
Published by the
Fire Island Lighthouse
Preservation Society, Inc.
Robert La Rosa
Thomas F. Roberts, III
1st Vice President-Finances
William L. Chaloupka
1st Vice President-Operations
Geraldine M. Sheridan
Gayle E. Haines, Ed. D.
William S. Dempsey
Robert V. Guido
Gary N. Lombardi
Mark C. Nuccio
9:30 AM—4:00 PM
Tel. (631) 321-7028
Fax (631) 321-7033
Programs (631) 661-4876
Open Year Round
April through June:
9:30 am to 5 pm
July through August
9:30 am to 6 pm
Labor Day through mid-December
9:30 am to 5 pm - DST
(4 pm- EST)
Mid-December through March:
10 am—4 pm
Weekends and Holidays
12 noon—4 pm
(Closed Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter)
Offered during operational hours, until an hour before closing.
(not available weekday mornings due to school group usage)
Fee: Adult $7, Senior $4, Child $4 (under 12), Active Military
w/ID $4, Member $2. Fees subject to change.
Participants must wear appropriate footwear, be at least 42”
tall and in good health.
Unique Tower Tours
Looking for something different to do? Perhaps a custom
tower tour. If you have the group-we have the tour! Arrangements can be made for small groups for Private Sunset Tours;
outside of scheduled hours of operation. Fee: $20 per person. Maximum group size not to exceed 15 people. Minimum
fee of $200 if less than 10 people. Reservations requiredCall (631) 661-4876.
Visit our web site
Follow us on facebook
The Volunteer Box
Thank you to all our Volunteers!!!
The Board of Directors of the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society would like to express their thanks and appreciation
to the 80 plus Lighthouse volunteers for generously donating
their time and efforts, without which the Society could not exist.
We are looking forward to a great spring and summer with our
volunteers doing everything from school groups, running tours,
helping in the gift shop, maintaining the Light, and caring for all
our precious exhibits.
Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society
Schedule of Special Events
11th Annual Benefit Art Show-through July 15
Local artists display their nautical artwork in the Keepers Quarters at the Lighthouse.
Opening reception will be held on June 21, 6pm – 9pm (take a shuttle bus from Field #5
RMSP). All artwork is for sale with a portion of the proceeds being donated to the Lighthouse by the artist. Admission free.
2 pm – In the Lens Building
The Better Late Than Never Jug Band-Free concert
Jug band tunes, Blues and Old time music.
Lighthouse is open late – 8 pm
Enjoy the early evening at the Lighthouse. Beat the parking fee after 4pm. Tower tours
are available until 7:30 pm at regular fee. Weather permitting please call ahead
(631) 661-4876. Every Saturday in July.
“Jr. Lighthouse Rangers” Summer Program
Six week program that meets Wednesday mornings from 10am until noon, July 11
through August 15, 2012. A fun & informative experience of children ages 7 – 14 years
old. Learn about life on a barrier beach in the days of sailing ships. Climb the lighthouse!
Participate in a mock US Life Saving Service rescue. Seining in the Great South Bay offers children an opportunity to explore the myriad of marine life. Nautical crafts round
out the program. Call for an application. $85 per child.
6:30 pm - 8 pm. A special night for our Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society
Members. Tower Tours and “Light” refreshments. Come to see the new Fire Island Light
Station Lens Building with our spectacular First Order Fresnel Lens. Free for all Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society members.
Light Keepers Behind the Scenes Tour
9 am – Follow one of our present day Lighthouse Keepers on his rounds. This bottom to
top tour takes you from the auxiliary generator and the Light Keepers workshop in the
basement of the Keeper’s Quarters to the beacon in the lantern room of the lighthouse
tower. Learn how lighthouse Keepers in the 1860’s to 2012 maintained the light. Includes a tour of the new Lens Building which houses our original first order Fresnel Lens.
$20 per person – Reservations required. Limit 12 people.
National Lighthouse Day
Reduced Tower Tour fee all day.
26th Annual “Barefoot Black Tie Dinner Dance”
6:30 – 11 pm. Enjoy a catered dinner and dance to the sounds of the live band,
Tradewinds. Open bar and silent auction. Prizes will be given for best theme attire. A
great romantic evening in front of the Lighthouse – tickets are limited; call (631)321-7028
18-19 Amateur Radio Lighthouse Weekend
The Great South Bay Amateur Radio Club set up their radios to communicate with other
radio operators around the world.
The Surf Hotel
In 1855, David Sammis purchased 120 acres of land east of
the lighthouse. By 1857 the main building of the hotel was
complete. From 1865 until 1892 the hotel became the place
to be for the rich, famous and political elite. Sammis purchased a dock in Babylon and a boat and began the first
regular ferry service to his hotel on Fire Island.
The hotel expanded with many improvements. He built
covered boardwalks throughout the facility. He built cupolas on top of the hotel where residents could watch ships
passing. One of the cupolas was used by Western Union
Telegraph as an observation post to spot incoming ships
destined for New York City. He also built tennis courts and
private homes. The hotel could accommodate 1,000 guests.
Many famous people stayed at the hotel including Herman
Melville who wrote Billy Budd while vacationing here.
The fall of 1892 brought an end to the Surf Hotel. A ship
with Cholera infected immigrants was in New York Harbor.
The governor of New York purchased the hotel as a place to
quarantine them. The local people from Babylon, Bay
Shore and Islip became enraged that this was going to happen and created a blockade at the hotel. The locals refused to let the boat with the quarantined people
land at the hotel. The Governor sent out the National Guard troops to disperse the crowd. They were
eventually landed and thereafter the Surf Hotel was not popular due to the fear of Cholera. The state
later (1908) turned it into New York States first park, Fire Island State Park.
*Information taken from the Fire Island Lighthouse Trail Guide, Fire Island National Seashore publication.
Learn more about resort life along the Great South Bay on Long Island’s South Shore in the Nineteenth
Century. Author Harry W. Havemeyer trilogy series “Fire Island’s Surf Hotel and other Hostelries on
Fire Island Beaches in the Nineteenth Century”, “Along the Great South Bay-the Story of Summer
Spa” and “East on the Great South Bay– Sayville and Bayport” are available in the lighthouse gift
There are many different species of dragonflies, and most of them
are found near water. The earliest dragonflies appeared over 300
million years ago. Despite their name, dragonflies are part of the
Odonata order which also includes damselflies.
Like all insects, the dragonfly has a three part body: a head, a
thorax and a long thin segmented abdomen. They have two large
compound eyes with many facets or sides. Because of their large,
multifaceted eyes, the adult dragonfly can see nearly 360 degrees
around it at all times. They have three pairs of jointed legs on
Dragonflies have two pairs of wings. The wings are mostly transparent and move very fast, so it appears that they have more than two pairs. They are among the fastest insects. Some can fly upward of
30 miles per hour. Their four wings also allow them to move sideways, backward and to hover in
Dragonflies are not born with wings. The larva hatches from an egg
which is laid in water or on plant leaves or stems by the water. They
spend most of their lifespan in the larva or nymph stage catching and eating prey. The nymphs have a special appendage on their heads that they
use as a spear to catch their prey of mosquito larva or tiny fish. It will
molt five to fourteen times before becoming an adult. When fully grown,
it emerges from the water using the claws on its feet to crawl onto a plant.
Dragonflies cause no harm to humans. They do not sting or bite. They often fly around humans because they are curious. They are useful in controlling the mosquito populations as mosquitoes are one
of their primary food sources.
The adult, winged stage only lasts a few weeks. Mating is the primary reason for their winged stage.
So when you see a winged dragonfly, you know it’s toward the end of its life span.
Doris did it again! She made a beautiful quilt to benefit the lighthouse. This
years quilt features “Nature” around the lighthouse. It is handcrafted in browns
and greens with pictures of some of the wildlife and plants you see here. The
quilt measures 3’ X 5’. Tickets are on sale now in the gift shop at $2 each or 3
for $5. The winner of the quilt will be picked on December 1, 2012.
John Corr Sings at the New Lens Building
This past stormy Sunday, April 22, the Preservation Society was graced with
the talents of John Corr. His concert was well attended in spite of the
John is a traditional folk singer with a vast catalog of nautical and Irish ballads plus his own original songs. He accompanies these songs on a myriad of
instruments that he has mastered such as guitar, five string banjo, Celtic drum,
penny whistle and spoons. His pleasing voice fits perfectly to his instrumental
Songs like "Greenback Dollar", Blow the Man Down, The Ballad of the Bay Men, The Ballad of Moby
Dick and many more resounded in the rich acoustics of the new Lens building. He surrounded each song
with it's relevance to the history of those bygone nautical times. He even showed the audience how to make
their own flute out of a bamboo stalk.
John has performed at the Light House before the Lens building was completed in
2008. He has also performed on Pete Seeger's Clear Water, the Maritime Museum,
and many other public venues.
We wish John "Clear Sailing" until he can share his gifts again in the near future.
John will always have a home here. Thank you John !
Check out our website for other upcoming concerts at the Lens Building.
Review By Mark C. Nuccio, Trustee
26th Annual Barefoot Black Tie Dinner
Dine and Dance under the stars
In front of the Lighthouse
August 11, 2012
6:30 P.M. until 11 P.M.
Catered buffet dinner by Stony Brook’s
Three Village Inn
Live music performed by Tradewinds
Open Bar, and Silent Auction, Prizes given for
best theme attire
$100 per person
Tickets on sale now ~ Call (631) 321-7028
This issues spotlight shines on George Bacon. George has been a volunteer at the Lighthouse for 10 years. When he first signed on, he trailed the
guided Tower Tours. After a while and some encouragement from Fred,
George conducted the tours. Some days he would climb the tower two or
three times. He enjoyed taking people up in the tower and his enthusiasm
made for a educational and exciting tour. Now he helps us maintain the
Keeper’s Quarters and surrounding grounds.
George also participated in the Beach Apparatus Drill one summer and he
was hired as staff and worked for three years. He is one of our VIP photographers and has helped with several projects including our new rack
card. Some of his work is for sale in the gift shop. He has also donated
some photos to our silent auction and has participated in our annual Art
George served in the Navy for nine years after WWII. His first tour of duty was at a shipyard in Panama,
on the Pacific side of the Canal Zone. There he was qualified as a crane operator to operate 20 ton cranes
on floating dry docks, which were being returned from the Pacific after the war, to various shipyards
along the East Coast of the United States. These floating dry docks, too large to go through the Panama
Canal, had to be turned on their side and towed through...BIG JOB! Once through, they were right sided
and then towed by sea-going Tugs to their respective ship yards in the States. During the Korean War he
was assigned to minesweepers.
After the Navy, he worked at a printing company in New York City as a Offset Pressman. They did a lot
of work for Art Galleries and printed reproductions of paintings for artists who wanted to sell copies of
their work. He retired after 26 years as a pressman and worked in a school as a custodian for ten years.
He also volunteers for Meals on Wheels, and has been delivering meals since 1995.
George has been married to his wife Marilyn for 59 years. He has two children, a son and a daughter,
four grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. In addition to his love for Lighthouses, he and his
wife bred and showed Rough Collies. They had belonged at that time to the Collie Club of Long Island.
One of their dogs won the Best of Winners in the Collie Breed at the Westminster Dog Show in 1979.
Now between family, the Lighthouse, Meals on Wheels and his church, George is kept quite busy.
Call to all Members
The Barefoot Black Tie Fundraiser will be held on Saturday, August 11, 2012. There is a silent auction at
this fundraiser that generates a large portion of the proceeds. We are currently in the process of obtaining
items for this auction. We generally go to businesses on Long Island and ask them to donate items, gift
certificates and /or services. If you can contribute to this auction , we would certainly appreciate it. All
donors are recognized in the Fundraiser Program.
We are also in need of 12 Conference Room chairs and Gift Shop display cases.
Attention: Save These Dates !
The 11th Annual Benefit Art Show runs from Friday June 22nd through Sunday July 15th with an opening reception on June 21 from 6:00 pm until 9:00 pm.
Local artists display their nautical artwork in the Keepers Quarters at the lighthouse. Last year we had
over 95 pieces of art work on display. All art work is for sale with a portion of the proceeds being donated by the artist to the lighthouse. The show is open during our operating hours. Come take a look at
this wonderful exhibit.
Concert Series-Sunday June 24th in the Lens Building. The Better Late Than
Never Jug Band will be performing. This six member band plays the Blues and
Old Time music. This is a free concert, we hope you can join us!
On Friday, July 13th, the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society is hosting a Members Night.
This will be a special night for our members to say “thank you for your support.” Enjoy “Light” refreshments and take a free Tower Tour. Come to see the new Fire Island Light Station Lens Building
with our spectacular First Order Fresnel Lens. Meet some of our Board Members. The event is from
6:30 pm until 8 pm. All parking is in Field #5 of the Robert Moses State Park. We hope you can attend!
We are open until 8 pm every Saturday in July! Enjoy the peacefulness of Fire Island in the early evening. Beat the parking fee after 4 pm. Tower tours are available until 7:30 pm at the regular fee of $7
for adults and $4 for seniors and children 12 and under. Children must be 42” tall to climb and participants must have shoes. Weather permitting-call (631) 661-4876 for more details.
Follow us on Facebook
The Fire Island Lighthouse is now on Facebook. Two of our valued volunteers are updating the page
daily. View pictures of what we are doing and what visitors are seeing. You are invited to submit your
photos, subject to our approval.
FIRE ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE
Visit the gift Shop at the Lighthouse
The Gift Shop is open all year
Tee Shirts, Sweatshirts, hats
April through June
Daily 9:30 am to 5 pm
Framed Lighthouse Prints
July 1st to Labor day
Daily 9:30 am to 6 pm
Labor Day to mid-December– Daily 9:30 am to 5 pm
Books, note cards, posters
Mid-December to March
Weekends & Holidays 12 noon to 4 pm
10 am to 4 pm
Closed Christmas, Thanksgiving & Easter
And many more items
10 % discount for members (excludes books)
Thank You For Your Continued Support
First Trade Union Bank
Taylor Rental of Bay Shore
Fire Island Wireless
Official Offset Corporation
Design Edge, Inc.
Bank of New York Mellon
Bill Kinney Studios
Kenneth J. Herman, Inc.
John Bosch Bus
Fire Island Light Newsletter Advertising Rates:
To raise money to support the Fire Island Lighthouse in its continuing effort to promote maritime education as well as preserve and maintain the Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters/Visitor Center, we ask
that you help us by purchasing advertising space in the newsletter.
Advertisements run for four (4) consecutive issues of the newsletter
Distribution is to Society Members and Lighthouse visitors.
For more information, please call Patti or Dave at (631) 321-7028
Several corporations have a policy of matching employee
gifts of $25 or more to cultural and educational institutions. The Fire Island Lighthouse qualifies for matching
grants from many companies that have such policies.
If your company will match your gift, we would be very
grateful if you would fill out a grant form from your company and include it with your gift when making a donation
to the Lighthouse.
E-mail: [email protected]
THE DESIGN EDGE GROUP
DESIGN EDGE INC.
And the entire Nuccio Family
Support the Lighthouse
BECOME A MEMBER
Without membership, we can’t survive.
With your financial support we can and we
will. Help keep Long Island’s maritime
heritage alive with your membership in the
Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society.
Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society
Annual Membership Application
Membership entitles you to:
Reduced tower tour fees
Fire Island Light newsletter
10% discount on all gift shop items,
Notification of programs/events.
Discount on selected programs/events.
Visa, MasterCard and American Express accepted.
Fire Island Lighthouse Fee Schedule
Adult (12 years and older)……….…$7.00
Senior Citizens (65 and older)……...$4.00
Active Military with I.D……………$4.00
Children (42 inches and taller)……..$4.00
Members of Preservation Society….$2.00
Fees are subject to change
Card #__________________________ Expiration Date_____________
Please make checks payable to FILPS and send to:
4640 Captree Island , Captree Island, New York 11702
The Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society is a non-profit, 501 © 3 Tax exempt organization.
Your contribution is tax deductible to the Extent allowed by law.
Captree Island, New York 11702
4640 Captree Island
Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society
PERMIT # 13
BAY SHORE, N.Y.11706
NON PROFIT ORG.