Assessing the Lantern Room
Last year Cape Decision Lighthouse welcomed CDLS board member and conservator Nicole Peters to Kuiu Island to conduct an on-site condition assessment of the lighthouse cupola and lantern room. Peters, a trained art conservator, is based out of Skagway, Alaska where she lives and operates a private conservation practice. The project was requested by the Cape Decision Lighthouse Society (CDLS), with on-site support from board members Chris Brooks (President), Molly Conley, and Steve Lanwermeyer (Treasurer). The project was financially supported through funding acquired from the Alaska Office of History and Archaeology (OHA) and State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).
The purpose of conducting a comprehensive condition assessment of the cupola and lantern room is to record important baseline condition information to which future assessments can be compared, and to formulate a priority checklist and treatment plan for unstable or vulnerable components. The assessment also provides data that informs important decisions involving the implementation of preventative conservation methods and cyclical maintenance procedures that aid in the overall preservation of the site.
Over the span of four days, Nicole carefully examined and documented both interior and exterior components of the historic structure. She recorded condition data in the form of detailed written reports as well as annotated photographic documentation. Peters meticulously observed the historic fabric and organized the results by material classification. Wood, glass, concrete, and metal alloys were all assessed and a projected treatment plan and rationale for each material type and component was prepared. The harsh coastal Alaskan environment has taken a toll on both interior and exterior components via erosion from airborne particulate and years of
exposure to salt-laden ocean aerosols. Some of the major issues Peters noted were the rapidly corroding metal surfaces and the cracked historic lantern glass panes.
Recommendations for future preservation efforts were made considering the extent of degradation observed, the historical significance of the component, the practicality and feasibility of repair materials and methods, and the general safety of the crew and preservationist, amongst other factors. All findings and data were compiled into a comprehensive report submitted to CDLS board members after the site visit. Now that the initial assessment is complete, focus can be turned to implementing the recommendations outlined in the report. As a newly appointed board member, Nicole is excited to help facilitate and build upon relationships between the conservation and historic preservation communities and Cape Decision Lighthouse.