LIGHTHOUSE RENOVATION PROJECT – Information provided by the Barrier Island Parks Society photography by Skip Perry If you haven’t visited the newly-renovated Gasparilla Island Light yet, you will be pleasantly surprised. With the construction and painting complete, the grounds have been cleaned up; a beautiful paver path is installed from the state park parking lot to and around the structure; old concrete was removed and replaced; the original bollards were repaired and reinstalled at the base; seashell pathways are in place; a walkway through the 7.4 acres of land has been cleared and opened; low level lighting surrounds the structure (will be deactivated during turtle season) and extensive new landscaping surrounds the range light and the nature trail is complete. And … the range light itself is indescribably beautiful to behold! Here is a summary of restoration “did-you-knows” that went into the project: • 12 structural nuts that connected the lighthouse to its foundation were replicated and replaced • 34 structural bolts connecting the observation deck to the lighthouse drum were replaced • A new front access door and lantern room door were recreated from historical photos and drawings and replaced • 250 feet of heavy copper rope was buried beneath the lighthouse creating a new lightning rod (it appears the old structure was not “lightning safe”) • 14 new wooden windows were recreated from 100-year-old cypress sinker logs salvaged from a river near Jacksonville • A never used old stock commercial brass lock from 1920 was located and incorporated into the front door • More than 2,000 deteriorating rivets were removed and replaced • To sandblast and paint the lighthouse, 80’ scaffold towers were shipped from Orlando, erected and connected to fully encompass the lighthouse; the scaffolding weighed 80,000 pounds and was wrapped in 5 large parachute material tarpaulins to contain debris generated during construction • The containment took three days to complete and less than three hours to remove • 60,000 pounds of abrasive were used to remove the existing paint and rust • More than 1,500 pounds of deteriorated metal were removed and replaced • More than 1,000 pounds of rust was removed • More than 2,000 pounds of old paint was removed • 5,000 pounds of new paint was applied, inside and out; the zinc prime coat on the exterior weighed 33 pounds per gallon, totaling almost a ton and cost over $500 a gallon All in all, a remarkable achievement and something our community can be proud of and enjoy for decades to come. BIPS is continuing to solicit donations as they have yet to achieve the $1,783,000 goal of the restoration campaign. For information on donating please contact BIPS at (941) 964-0060 or send a check to “The Light Keeper’s Fund” to BIPS at P.O. Box 654, Boca Grande, FL 33921.
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