The importance of windows is easy to overlook, but out at Burrows Island Light Station, the Northwest Schooner Society has been learning all about it.
The keepers’ quarters are housed in a charming yet spacious 1906 duplex designed by Carl Leick. The units originally had many beautiful large double-hung windows looking out onto Rosario Strait and Lopez Island, not to mention the picturesque lighthouse, but, sometime between the automation of the lighthouse in 1972 and the beginning of restoration work in 2011, vandals kicked out nearly every pane of glass. The windows had to be boarded up to keep out the elements, leaving the entire building in the dark.
Here’s the front of the keepers’ quarters. As you see, most of the windows are still covered:
For obvious reasons, the Northwest Schooner Society has made the repair of the windows a priority. It’s quite a project to replace windows at the light station; damage that took only a few seconds to do takes an incredible amount of time, effort, and money to fix. Each wooden frame must be removed from the building, brought to shore by boat and then taken to a volunteer’s home workshop, where it is carefully disassembled, cleaned, and repaired before new glass is inserted into the openings and the frame is reassembled and painted. Finally, the new window is driven back to Anacortes and ferried across the harbor to Burrows Island.
The strategy has been to do a single window in each room of the north unit to ensure enough light to work on other projects. So far, we have 12 windows done and 60 to go. Volunteers have been generous with their time and expertise, but there are still costs associated with this project, about $100 per window for supplies and transportation. If you would like to help restore this piece of local maritime history, consider donating the cost of window. If you’d like to give in someone’s name, we can arrange a pretty card with an image of Burrows Island for your recipient. Imagine what a nice surprise that might be for your favorite ‘lightkeeper’ this upcoming holiday season.
Here you see volunteers preparing to take newly finished windows out to Burrows Island:
When the boat arrives at the island, the windows must be carried up the steep stairs along the rocky shore to the boathouse and across the field to the keepers’ quarters.
It’s exciting and gratifying to remove the plywood from a newly restored window and see the light to flood back in as it did over 100 years ago. Here are some of the windows that have already been reglazed.
The living room:
An upper bedroom: