By PATRICK WHITTLE
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The caretakers of part of one of Maine’s most beloved lighthouses said Thursday they believe they can rebuild a portion of the structure that was damaged in a storm this week.
The strong storm that brought high winds and heavy rains to the Northeast badly damaged the site of Pemaquid Point Light in Bristol. The nearly 200-year-old lighthouse is featured on the state quarter and is a popular coastal destination.
The lighthouse’s bell house, which dates to the 19th century, sustained the worst of the damage, and parts were reduced to a pile of bricks. It was struck by high waves and wind gusts of 79 mph (127 kph), said Shelley Gallagher, beach manager for Bristol’s parks and recreation department.
The town runs and maintains the site as Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park. Town officials believe they can rebuild the damaged portions, though they’ll need to hustle to secure the site in advance of another tough storm expected to hit the region Friday, Gallagher said.
“We think there’s enough of the structure remaining that we can get it rebuilt,” Gallagher said. “We’ll be ready again. We’ll be ready again in the summer.”
The lighthouse tower itself is maintained by Friends of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. The tower was not damaged, Gallagher said.
The bell house was the site of the lighthouse’s fog bell, once used to alert mariners, Gallagher said. The bell itself, forged in the 1840s, was unharmed because it was taken down in August because of rotting wood.
The town will seek federal money to help with the cost of rebuilding, Gallagher said.
The winter storm lashed New Hampshire and Maine and caused significant damage to waterfront business, wharfs and vessels. Another popular Maine lighthouse, Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth, also suffered some damage.
The storm brought “unprecedented damage to property along Maine’s working waterfront” and the full of scope of that damage is still being assessed, said Patrick Keliher, commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources.