Historic Fresnel Lens Of Concord Point Lighthouse Moves To Museum For Conservation And Display


The iconic fresnel lens atop the Concord Point Lighthouse in Havre de Grace. (Credit: John Haug / Friends of Concord Point Lighthouse)

HAVRE DE GRACE - The iconic Fresnel lens of the Concord Point Lighthouse, which has illuminated the tower's lantern room for decades, is being relocated to the Keeper's House Museum for conservation and public display.

This move is aimed at preserving the historical artifact, currently on loan from the United States Coast Guard (USCG), from the harsh impact of ultraviolet rays and drastic changes in temperature and humidity.

According to the Friends of the Concord Point Lighthouse (FCPL), a recent lens assessment revealed significant damage it has endured over the years, prompting a recommendation to house it indoors.

Since its construction in 1827 by John Donahoo, the Concord Point Lighthouse has undergone numerous changes in its light source. Initially, illumination was provided by nine whale oil lamps with 16-inch reflectors. Over the years, these were successively replaced by 7th, 6th, and 5th-order Fresnel lenses, with the latter guiding ships until the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1975. A 5th-order lens provided by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum replaced a missing 1891 Fresnel lens after the FCPL was formed in 1979.

Finding someone equipped to remove and transport the lens safely is challenging. Tommy Cumella, one of only three lamppists in the nation, was tasked with completing the lamp's removal. Assisting him was retired USCG Master Chief Eric Heimburger, a skilled lighthouse technician and a member of the FCPL board. Both have prior experience moving Fresnel lenses from lighthouses to museums nationwide.

Tommy Cumella and USCG Master Chief Eric Heimburger work to carefully remove the lens. (Credit: Carol Allen/ Friends of the Concord Point Lighthouse)

The retired Fresnel lens will be replaced by a 300 mm lantern, another loan from the USCG. Havre de Grace's own Shane Custom Metal Fabricators are working on a base for the new lantern and a stand for the 5th-order Fresnel lens, which will be displayed in the Keeper's House Museum.

The museum's new exhibit is set to open in the coming weeks, and the lighthouse's cupola will be temporarily closed to visitors during the transition period.

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