CREDITS: I would like to thank Jeremy D'Entremont for providing much of the history one can find on this site. He is a speaker, author, historian, and tour guide who is widely recognized as the foremost authority on the lighthouses of New England. For a story on Jeremy or to visit his site (New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide), use the corresponding link in the right hand information bar under "Related Links".

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I have set up this site as a means to share my photographs of lighthouses. Since retiring and finding more time to study photography, my interests have expanded a little. For some of my work other than lighthouses please enjoy my Facebook page at, John Shaw Photography. Come visit, enjoy, and 'LIKE' if you wish.

Also, for your enjoyment, I have provided a slideshow of our journey. To view it please use the link on the right under 'Site Navigation Tools'.

I sincerely hope you enjoy my efforts and use my site not only for information and education but also to provide directions for many enjoyable, inspirational visits to the beacons along our beautiful coas.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tenants Harbor Lighthouse

     Tenants Harbor, one of the villages that makes up the town of St. George, grew up around a sheltered harbor on the east side of the St. George peninsula, at the southwest end of Penobscot Bay. With fishing and granite quarrying flourishing in the area, Congress appropriated $4,500 for a lighthouse on 22-acre Southern Island, at the entrance to the harbor, in August 1854.

     The dwelling was originally painted brown and the tower was painted white, and the roof of the lantern and the ventilator ball were painted red. The tower is connected to the wooden keeper's dwelling by a small workroom. Later additions to the station included a boathouse in 1880, a storage shed in 1895, and an oil house in 1906. A small shed was built next to the kitchen wing of the dwelling in 1887. For some years, the light station had a hand-operated fog bell. A wooden pyramidal bell tower with automatic striking machinery was later added.

     In 1934, Tenants Harbor Light was one of a group of Maine lighthouses discontinued by the government and sold at auction. The lighthouse was bought by a Rockland resident. The island passed through several hands until artist Andrew Wyeth and his wife, Betsy James Wyeth, bought it in 1978. The Wyeths spent a number of summers on Southern Island. Betsy Wyeth told Architectural Digest in 1986, "I love everything about this house. Just walking into it refreshes me. It's like being on a ship-the brass polished, everything swept clean. I love the patterns of our life here."

     Andrew Wyeth, a history buff, designed a studio inside the base of the old 30-foot-tall bell tower. The room is a scaled-down version of Lord Nelson's quarters on the Victory. Since 1990, Betsy and Andrew's son, artist Jamie Wyeth, and his wife, Phyllis Mills Wyeth, have lived on the island. "It's like living in an Andrew Wyeth painting," Jamie Wyeth told National Geographic.

     In March 1993, Jamie Wyeth weathered a blizzard on Southern Island. He spent much of the storm in the lighthouse. "It was fantastic," he said. "It really blew a gale. There are vents in the lighthouse tower, and when the wind came screaming through it sounded like fifty metroliners."

     Tenants Harbor Light has appeared in a number of paintings by Andrew and Jamie Wyeth, including Andrew Wyeth's "Signal Flags" and "Iris at Sea," painted by Jamie Wyeth to raise funds for the Island Institute of Rockland.

     Directions:  Although the buildings can be seen distantly from the public landing a Tenants Harbor, trees often obscure any view of the light house.  The best views can be had by taking a lighthouse cruise out of Port Clyde.  Morning light is probably best for photography.

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