Burrows Island Lighthouse Restoration
Year One - 2011


Losing the station to fire has concerned the NWSS volunteers for many years. Finding evidence of campfires in the grass and inside the boat-house were profoundly troubling.

Getting the brush cleared away from the buildings and the grass trimmed was a lot of work—and a great relief.

There was no railing guarding this precipitous ledge inside the lighthouse tower and no evidence of how a historic railing might have been constructed.

The new rail is sturdy but unfinished. NWSS will seek permission from the USCG to encase the modern light in a circular wood structure that ties into the new rail, but presents a more historic appearance.

December 12, 2011 the new sign is in place.

The sign shows original plans, information about the restoration, grant information and links to the Lighthouse Environmental Program and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation websites and the NWSS websites, which in turn link to LEP and WTHP.

Roof stringers were apparently removed to become loft floor joists when the boathouse was expanded in the 1950s and were not replaced when the building was re-roofed in 2006. A brief inspection showed the roof beginning to “hog” so new stringers were added.

Plenty of headroom remains in the loft, and a railing is ready to install across the open end. A staircase will replace the compromised ladder that accesses the loft.

The alcove on the east side of the boathouse was added when the structure was enlarged, and much of it was below grade, and not quite sitting on its foundation. The short pony wall was completely rotted through.

Most of the wooden studs were solid above the pony wall, but our carpenter was stunned to discover they did not connect to the foundation and the rafters were rotten or burned. Note the temporary studs and evidence of a small, but intense fire in the past.

New siding now covers the lower east side of the alcove replacing the rotten wood shown in the interior photo above. The North face of the alcove will need some new wood; the south face is completely compromised.

One stud was completely replaced, while the tops of others were sistered with new wood extending to the foundation. All rot was removed on the east wall, and there is no sign active infestation at this time.

The boathouse had evidence of campfires built inside, something NWSS discourages. This gap was sided, but severely rotten in USCG photos taken in 2006.

Cedar planks matching the old siding cover the gap in the wall, while plywood covers the exhaust port for the temporary generator location.

The boom was frozen in position and lacked any cable. Note the collapsed remnants of the old landing deck that once held boats hoisted by the boom.

After a lube job, new and old ropes were added, and with a lot of groaning, the boom freed up and allowed volunteers to use it for bulky payloads, such as this fieldmower. These two photos illustrate the difficulty of providing good access to the light station. Note the beached boat to the right of the concrete landing knee. The tide is not completely out in this photograph. At low low tides the proposed new landing float will rest on the exposed beach, making it impossible to moor boats for more than a few hours at a time. A mooring buoy has been permitted by the Corps of Engineers and will be installed in spring 2012.
Temporary railings were installed throughout the Keepers Quarters, though a center point of plywood is still needed before NWSS welcomes volunteers in force.

A hive of yellowjackets maintained suppremacy over this staircase for much of the summer. One hive is in/under the top tread, the other hive is in between the window and the plywood cover to the right of the door.

The signs on the door include plans from 1906, a photo from 1944 and information on the restoration of the light station, including the grants that are making it possible.

This is the only one of the six original staircases still effectively in place.


NWSS failed to get any "before" shots of the broken lattice under the porches. This photo of the south porch was taken by USCG in 2006.

This is the north porch with the lattice repaired.

These two stairs and the stairs shown above are built differently, repaired oddly, and show very different levels of carpentry skills. NWSS elected to wait until enough information could be gathered about the original design to assure accurate reproductions. A photograph from the National Archives taken in 1944 was very helpful.

These remnants of the north porch entry stairs were buried under brush. Their soggy remnants provided invaluable clues to the original stair construction.