West Pierhead Lighthouse seeks funding for upcoming restorations

The West Pierhead Lighthouse anticipates fiscal support for their upcoming renovations after submitting application to the Oswego City Common Council in order to attract local tourism in the future (photo provided by Richard Smith via Flickr)
The West Pierhead Lighthouse anticipates fiscal support for their upcoming renovations after submitting application to the Oswego City Common Council in order to attract local tourism in the future (photo provided by Richard Smith via Flickr)

The West Pierhead Lighthouse Restoration Project is seeking funding for renovation proposals this upcoming year.

Last Tuesday night, the Common Council in the city of Oswego authorized Community Development Director Mary Vanouse submitted an application to Assemblyman Will Barclay’s office in support of the restoration project.

Barclay was allowed a portion of state budget money to use toward a project in the 120th Assembly District.

“Assemblyman Barclay was allowed $100,000.00…to be awarded to a project in his district that needed some funding and assistance,” said Billy Barlow, Oswego City Counselor.

According to Barlow, funding is not guaranteed.

“The chance of receiving the funds is substantial,” Barlow said.

If funds are granted, they will be received next spring and used towards new roofing and paint for the outside of the lighthouse.

In 2009, the U.S. government granted ownership of the lighthouse to the city of Oswego. Since then, the lighthouse has fallen into disrepair. However, there has been a grassroots effort to repair and preserve the lighthouse.

As of today, it is the only lighthouse of four that is still standing in Oswego.

The lighthouse is hoped to be used as a tourist attraction as well as a preserved landmark.

Barlow stated on recent trip out to the lighthouse with Mayor Thomas Gillen and Oswego City counselor Eric Van Buren, “he felt more inspired than even before”.

Mercedes Niess, executive director of the H. Lee White Marine Museum, and volunteers from the lighthouse group gave them an update on what had been accomplished and what more needed to be done at this point.

“I felt like a tourist. It was inspiring, energizing; and I could feel the potential for the lighthouse once it would be completed,” Barlow said.

Afterwards, he gave all the information to Barclay and the city wrote a letter in support of funding the project.
Barlow said that the main goal of the lighthouse besides a preserved landmark would be a tourist attraction.

The group is looking to offer a boat ride and a narrated tour of the lighthouse. This would include walking around the outside, inside and even having the opportunity to gaze from the watch deck at the top. Barlow stated the view of the lake from the top “ was amazing.”

Some of Barlow’s thoughts concerning future ventures for the lighthouse would include taking part in the lake Ontario lighthouse boat tours. He said there was groups that travel up the lake touring lighthouses and he was hoping for Pierhead to eventually become a part of that.

Personally, Barlow thought that Pierhead would be a fine place to hold social events. He stated that the bottom of the lighthouse has a huge, spacious room. His thoughts were to possibly to make it into a gift shop or conference hall.

He also had thoughts of hosting a sunset cruise, which would include a tour of the lighthouse, the bluffs and ending with a view of the sun setting before returning. He would also like to see lights illuminating the lighthouse at night. He stated that these ideas would be facilitated more towards the private sector.

As for now, the H. Lee White Museum has done all its own funding to support the lighthouse, including chicken barbeques, T-shirt sales and private funding.