Funding to repair the roof at the Dunkirk Lighthouse is beginning to fall into place.
State Senator Catharine Young and assemblyman William Parment have announced that Chautauqua Home Rehabilitation & Improvement Corporation (CHRIC) has been awarded a grant through the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to continue work the non-profit corporation is undertaking at the 1875 Dunkirk lighthouse. This is the second OPRHP award CHRIC has received for the lighthouse restoration project.
"These funds will go directly for historic preservation projects on the lighthouse building itself," said CHRIC executive director, John Murphy, of Dunkirk. "Activities planned for this allocation of state and private funding will be the restoration of the historic slate roof, and the replacement of missing architectural elements of the building such as the cross bracing under the western eaves of the building, and missing reverse finials."
OBSERVER File Photo
The Dunkirk Lighthouse will get needed repairs if enough funding can be found.
The state funds will pay for half of the estimated $265,000 project, with the balance having to be raised from private sources. Murphy was asked where the rest of the funding will come from.
"That's our job to do. We're going to go after some bed tax money, some pledged money contingent on getting two different grants," Murphy said. "The roof is leaking so there is a certain urgency to this. We said we would raise the funds so we will do that."
Young, who has brought previous funding to the lighthouse for the replacement of the site's retaining wall, said the lighthouse is an important part of local history.
"This lighthouse has a storied place in our collective culture and this funding will help to ensure that one of Dunkirk's most unique and picturesque structures is safeguarded for future generations to enjoy," she said.
Parment, who also secured Community Capital Assistance Program funding for the retaining wall replacement project, knows the importance of the lighthouse.
"Lighthouses are some of the most historic structures in the United States, often displaying beautiful architectural detail and clever engineering design," he said. "With so many of these structures being lost to neglect, it is especially significant that this symbol of safety and security in Dunkirk will be protected."
Murphy said the lighthouse has an economic impact on the tourism industry.
"This 1875 lighthouse is a part of Chautauqua County's rich history and draws approximately 15,000 visitors to the site annually. It's an important element of our county's tourism industry and deserves to be preserved," he said. "We look forward to working with area foundations, corporations and private individuals who will support this project, by raising the matching funds required to fully carry out the project."
Harold Lawson, executive director of the Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse and Veterans Park Museum, along with his wife Barb Lawson, maintain the Point Gratiot facility.
Corporations and individuals interested in taking part in the restoration project should contact CHRIC Special Projects Manager Melayne Curtis at 753-4654.