By Fred Obee
Crescent Citys most famous landmark, the Battery Point Lighthouse, is getting some tender loving care.
Yesterday, restoration expert Dane Cowan and crew were installing replica windows, custom built to exacting historical standards.
The double sashes contain six panes each, exactly what early photos of the lighthouse show, Cowan said. Even the glass was carefully chosen. Much of it is 100 years old, salvaged and saved by Dan Stafford of Stafford Glass in Eureka.
Now the glass that was looking out at Eureka is looking out at Crescent City, Cowan said. Dans really proud of that.
The restoration project will replace all the windows in the lighthouse and add storm shutters, which originally helped protect the windows from raging Pacific storms and high winds. Last year, the lighthouse weather station clocked gusts of 115 miles per hour.
Cowan said reconstructing the storm shutters presents some difficulties because the lighthouse walls are very thick and the windows are recessed.
Finding the correct hardware is going to be an adventure, Cowan said.
Lighthouse Keepers Larry and Nancy Schnider are glad to see the work getting done. Their perch on the rocky promontory offers some of the best views imaginable but when slashing, wind driven rains hit, the old windows leaked and rattled and it was difficult to keep the 1856 buildings inside temperature above 60 degrees.
More than a century of leaks also took their toll on the original window frames. Nancy pointed out rotten wood in the windows that are due for replacement.
The Del Norte County Historical Society is footing the bill for the work. In all, it will cost about $16,500 to replace the 36 sashes, add storm shutters and give the doors some attention. Still Cowan, who honed his skills on the Victorian buildings in Ferndale, said the project is definitely worth the trouble.
Restoration work can be done, Cowan said, adding that too often people assume the best option is to replace old windows with new, historically inaccurate ones. People are starting to recognize we can do this, he said.
Inside the lighthouse, its clear the Schniders are decorating for Christmas, but work is pushing aside the holiday decor.
Getting the floors redone, thats the next project, Nancy said, showing where old linoleum was torn up to reveal the original pine floors underneath.
The windows removed from the building are being saved and will be sold as a Historical Society fundraiser, Nancy said.
Some are the original windows installed in 1856, she said.