Admiralty Head Lighthouse to get facelift sometime in 2019

One of the most famous buildings on Whidbey Island is going to get fixed up pretty, if everything goes as planned.

Alex McMurry, historic preservation planner for State Parks, said the state’s capital budget, which was finally passed last month, includes a little less than $200,000 for design work on a project to rehabilitate the Admiralty Head Lighthouse in Central Whidbey’s Fort Casey Park.

McMurry said State Parks originally asked for both the design and construction to be funded in the current biennium, at an estimated total cost of $1.6 million, but the governor’s budget phases the project over two bienniums.

The project is designed to preserve the lighthouse by fixing normal wear and tear that happens over the years in a soggy environment.

Jon Crimmons, manager of state parks in Central Whidbey, explained that the lighthouse, built in 1903, is made from brick covered by plaster. Over time, water can get into the plaster and cause it to bubble up, exposing the brick to the elements.

“We’re hoping for as much of a historic preservation facelift as we can get,” he said.

McMurry said the department hopes to hire an architect with expertise on lighthouses to do the design work. Most of the work is on the exterior and involves stucco and masonry. The chimney needs work, as does the metal railing in the lantern house.

The lighthouse got a new roof, new windows and structural repairs about eight years ago, he said.

In addition to the lighthouse project, State Parks is doing design and construction work this biennium on a restoration on the park office at Fort Casey. It will get a new roof, windows that are replicas of the originals and the original doors restored. The work will cost about $290,000.

The lighthouse was constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers to replace the Red Bluff Lighthouse, a wooden structure built in 1861.

“The beacon, high on a bluff, 127 feet above sea level, was an important navigational aid, especially for sailing ships entering Admiralty Inlet from the Strait of Juan de Fuca,” according to HistoryLink.org.

Admiralty Head Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1922 but was recognized in 1990 by the Postal Service for a collection of five commemorative lighthouse stamps.

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