Open House New York: Experience, explore and enjoy 

The Little Red Lighthouse.

Kids enjoy free storytelling at the Lilac Preservation Project at Pier 25.


Meet and greet the people who design, build and preserve New York. Explore more than 250 sites across New York City. Enjoy tours, talks, performances and more. Open House New York starts October 18 and concludes October 20.

During Open House New York, visit the National Lighthouse Museum and the US Coast Guard Cutter Lilac and more.

Coast Guard Cutter Lillac.

The Lilac is America’s only steam powered lighthouse tender.

The Lilac Preservation Project kicks off the weekend with Open House New York for Kids, October 19, 2-6 pm. Get signed copies of an Art Deco coloring book inspired by New Yorker and preservationist Barbara Capitman. Join in on the fun with the “Little Red Lighthouse” free storytelling and art activities for children. Open House New York continues at the Lilac October 20, 2-6 pm. Don’t miss the Voices of Lighthouses exhibit on view during the Lilac’s Open House.

Jam for a good cause at the Beacon of Hope’s Harbor Jamm on October 20, 12-5:30 pm. Experience live entertainment, food vendors and a classic car show at the National Lighthouse Museum. Come support and celebrate recovery during this drug awareness event.

New Dorp Lighthouse

Learn about the female lightkeeper’s at New Dorp Lighthouse, Staten Island.

October 20 is the last day to see “Shattering the Lens” at the National Lighthouse Museum. The exhibit sheds light on the dynamic impact of female lighthouse keepers. It is inspired by the book “Women Who Kept the Lights” by Mary Louise Clifford and J. Candace Clifford.

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The Lilac Closing Reception features poetry and live jazz

Port Pontchartrain Lighthouse

…there isn’t anything unusual in a woman keeping a light in her window to guide men folk home, I just happen to keep a bigger light. Margaret Norvell


Experience a night of exciting entertainment on October 10 at the Lilac Preservation Project. Enjoy readings by Elaine Sexton and a live performance by trombonist Peter Zummo and friends. Sexton is a part of the Lilac’s “Poetry Afloat” summer residency. 

The evening celebrates the Voices of Lighthouses exhibit by Elaine Marie. It spotlights the contributions of female light keepers like Margaret Norvell and more. In 2012, the US Coast Guard Cutter Margaret Norvell was launched in the light keeper’s honor.

Margaret Norvell served as a light keeper for 41 years. Discover Norvell’s heroism and exploits at the closing reception, October 10 from 6-8 pm aboard the Lilac Preservation Project, Pier 25, Manhattan, New York.

For more information visit, The Lilac.

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Waves of Immigration 

Ambrose Lightship

New York’s 1907 Ambrose Lightship provided passage way for millions of newcomers in stark contrast to the trickle of immigrants driving today’s headlines.

We may have come on different ships but we’re in the same boat now- Martin 

Today the word “immigration” often ignites fires of controversy. New York’s 1907 Ambrose Lightship provided passage way for millions of newcomers in stark contrast to the trickle of immigrants driving today’s headlines. 

United States LV-87 Ambrose Channel or Ambrose Lightship served as a beacon marking New York Harbor’s main shipping channel. Ambrose Channel is the only shipping channel in and out of the Port of New York and New Jersey. According South Street Museum where the Ambrose is anchored, “Her light was the first thing an immigrant would see as they entered New York Harbor…”

Discover the compelling story of the Ambrose Lightship in the painting “Waves of Immigration” at the “Voices of Lighthouses” exhibit. Don’t miss this FREE exhibit Sept 21-Oct 20 at the Lilac Preservation Project, docked at Pier 25. Like the pulsing rays from the lens, each painting releases the soul of a lighthouse. Featured Lighthouse Artist, Elaine Marie has visited over 80 lighthouses. This exhibit details of some her most memorable experiences through art.

See more of her evocative art the National Lighthouse Museum at “Shattering the Lens” exhibit, Sept 24-October 20. The original paintings shed light on the dynamic impact of female light keepers.

For details on the “Voices of Lighthouses” and “Shattering the Len” exhibits, visit Lilac Preservation Project

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Alexander Hamilton gets in the Act

Portland Head Lighthouse

Portland Head Lighthouse is one of the most popular and iconic lighthouses in the United States.


 The Lighthouse Act of 1789 was the first public works bill passed under the presidency of George Washington. As Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton personally administered lighthouses. Hamilton advocated for the federalization of lighthouses. They were part of a network that generated the first source of revenue for the new country.

Built in 1791, Portland Head Lighthouse was the first lighthouse completed under Washington. This may be one of the reasons why Portland Head Lighthouse is the “Most Photographed Lighthouse” in New England. It is also listed as one of the most iconic lighthouses on every conceivable list.

Portland Head’s Assistant Keeper, Mary Strout, helped with valiant rescues, cared and fed those injured at sea. Keepers fed those injured on meager salaries. Mary Strout was paid $480 annually. When the vessel Annie C. Maguire became shipwrecked, Mary tore up blankets into strips and made torches. She also prepared a delicious Christmas feast for the hungry crew.

“Shattering the Lens” an exhibit debuting Sept 24-October 20 at the National Lighthouse Museum in Staten Island, New York sheds light on the dynamic impact of female lighthouse keepers. The exhibit is inspired by the book “Women Who Kept the Lights” by Mary Louise Clifford and J. Candace Clifford.

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For further information, visit National Lighthouse Museum

Unsung Heroes 

St. George Lighthouse

After tumbling into the sea, a community rallied to rebuild the lighthouse.


Countless widows served briefly as light keepers without recognition and perhaps compensation. While many women served heroically alongside their husbands, some served immediately after the deaths of their husbands. Others declined an appointment as light keeper after the death of their spouses.

Ann Taylor whose husband, William Taylor, died requested to be relieved as light keeper of Cape St. George. A letter forwarded to me by Author and Historian, James Hargrove describes her plight. Anne’s spouse was the official light keeper 1849-1850.

“Shattering the Lens” an exhibit debuting Sept 24-October 20 at the National Lighthouse Museum in Staten Island, New York sheds light on the dynamic impact of female lighthouse keepers. The exhibit is inspired by the book “Women Who Kept the Lights” by Mary Louise Clifford and J. Candace Clifford.
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For further information, visit http://lighthousemuseum.org/lectures/

Women on a Mission 


I thought about the movie “Aquaman,” when researching the romance of bachelor Jeremiah Ingraham and Michaela Penalbar. After all, “Aquaman’s” father fell in love while keeping a lighthouse. As a result of this unlikely union (his father married a mermaid), Aquaman felt called to “Unite Two Worlds.” Lighthouses serve a similar mission, they unite the world. The Pensacola Lighthouse was part of that mission and also united two lives.

Jeremiah served as the first light keeper of the Pensacola Lighthouse. After two years at the post, Ingraham married Michaela Penalbar. Together they managed the light until his death in 1840. Michaela Ingraham became the first female head light keeper at Pensacola serving 1840-1855. After her death, her son in law, Joseph Palmes, followed as the keeper. Palmer was the keeper when the lighthouse was reconstructed at a new site in 1858 at the naval yard.

Built in 1824, the Pensacola Lighthouse safely guides ships directly into the deepest bay on Florida’s gulf coast. Pensacola Lighthouse had several female assistant light keepers: First Assistant Miss MV Watts 1867-69, Second Assistants: Mrs. MJ Madden 1869, Miss Viny Hughes 1869-70, Martha Lawrence 1880-85.

“Shattering the Lens” exhibit Sept 24-October 20 at the National Lighthouse Museum in Staten, Island New York sheds light on the dynamic impact of female lighthouse keepers. The exhibit is inspired by the book “Women Who Kept the Light” by Mary Louise Clifford and J. Candace Clifford.

The National Lighthouse Museum is only a 3-5 minute from the Staten Island Ferry.

http://www.pensacolalighthouse.org

For further information, visit http://lighthousemuseum.org/lectures/

The Devil is in the Details 

This lighthouse makes it to the bucket list.

This lighthouse makes it to the bucket list.


People from all over the world visit Gay Head lighthouse. The popularity of the gaily, colorful cliffs and iconic lighthouse is nothing new. Charles Vanderhoop assistant light keeper, according to a newspaper article, retired on disability in 1933 due to “visitor-itis!” Tourists probably weren’t a concern during the service of Gay Head’s assistant female light keeper, Lydia Adams. There were no roads for easy access to the lighthouse during her term, 1869-71.

A century later in 1975 , the popular lighthouse caught the eye of Hollywood and Steven Spielberg. There’s a shot of Gay Head Lighthouse in the Academy Award thriller, “Jaws.” When it was being relocated, the lighthouse was in the spotlight again in 2015. I was visiting Martha’s Vineyard during this time.

Despite all the fanfare, the Gay Head Lighthouse was built in 1799 to warn mariners about the treacherous, submerged obstructions called “Devil’s Bridge.”

Shattering the Lens exhibit Sept 24-October 20 at the National Lighthouse Museum in Staten, Island New York sheds light on the dynamic impact of female lighthouse keepers. The exhibit is inspired by the book “Women Who Kept the Light” by Mary Louise Clifford and J. Candace Clifford.

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For more information, visit www.elainemarie artist.com.