Fixing Up a Lighthouse
By Roger Roper
The most photographed lighthouse on the Oregon coast is in the middle of a major rehabilitation, and you’re invited to watch. Heceta Head Lighthouse, north of Florence, is going through the most thorough upgrade in its 108-year history. Project updates, including photos, will be posted to the lighthouse’s webpage so those interested can follow the progress from afar.
The $1.4 million project is being conducted by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, which owns and manages the lighthouse. The project received a substantial boost from a $1.2 million grant through the Oregon Department of Transportation’s federal Transportation Enhancement program.
As with many historic preservation projects, much of the work on this lighthouse involves actually undoing misguided rehabilitation efforts from the past. In an effort to try to keep out storm-driven water over the years, window openings were closed in and the exterior walls were coated with various products—all to no avail. In fact many of these “solutions” caused serious problems of their own by not allowing the structure to “breathe” and by trapping moisture in the walls.
Mitigating the water problems is the main task, but there are a number of other preservation challenges with the lighthouse. Stay tuned to see how these challenges are overcome over the next several months.
Roger Roper is Oregon’s Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer and Assistant Director with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.