For video footage of the completion, click Here.
Governor Kathy Hochul, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New York District, Montauk Historical Society, and other partners came together on August 16 to celebrate the reopening of the newly restored Montauk Point Lighthouse and completion of a major coastal resiliency project to protect the historic lighthouse and associated cultural resources. The landmark, located on the easternmost point of Long Island, underwent an extensive multi-year renovation and will be significantly protected from waves and coastal storms due to a new stone revetment that will prevent erosion and degradation of the site.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) coastal storm damage risk management project included the reconstruction of approximately 1,000 linear feet of stone revetment, including removal and reuse of existing armor stones, and delivery and placement of new armor stones weighing anywhere between 10 to 20 tons apiece. The project is designed to protect the historic Montauk Point lighthouse, complex, bluff area and associated cultural resources by stabilizing the site and protecting it from future coastal storms.
“Extreme storms can have a devastating impact on so many communities and resources, especially here at the coastal Montauk Lighthouse complex,” Hochul said. “New York State is proud to complete this project with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to implement this critical shoreline resiliency project so that the beautifully renovated lighthouse buildings and grounds are protected and enjoyed for generations to come.”
The cost of the overall effort to restore and protect the historical landmark was approximately $44 million, which included the award of a construction contract to H&L Contracting of Bay Shore in 2021. Both USACE and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) shared the cost of the project. DEC allocated $15.4 million in NY Works funding as the project’s non-federal sponsor. The local sponsor, the Montauk Historical Society, will maintain the site for continued use as a tourism attraction and educational center.
“Completion of this project is a major milestone on a number of levels due to the historic nature of the facility and it’s place in the community as well as American history,” said USACE New York District Commander Colonel Alexander Young. The Montauk Point Lighthouse has a played a key role in serving the maritime community for decades and the work done here by a very talented group of individuals from top to bottom will ensure it remains a symbol of American strength and ingenuity for years to come.”
The Montauk Point Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in New York State, authorized in 1792 by the Second Congress under President George Washington. Construction was completed in November 1796, and it was designated a National Historic Landmark on March 5, 2012. The lighthouse is on the Federal and State Registers of Historic Places. It was constructed approximately 300 feet from the original edge of the bluff, which became increasingly less stable over the years, leaving it extremely vulnerable to coastal storm erosion and significant damage.
NYS DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “DEC is proud to partner with USACE to provide long-term protection for the Montauk Point Lighthouse from coastal erosion and future storm events. Climate change remains a real challenge for coastal communities, increasing the frequency of extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy and resulting in more intense storm surge and coastal flooding. Under Governor Hochul’s leadership, DEC is continuing to work with local federal, state, and local partners to support resiliency initiatives and helping communities become better prepared for when the next big storm hits.”
David Freudenthal, chairman of the Concerned Citizens for Montauk, said his organization has worked with the state and the Town of East Hampton since 2014 to develop a long-term solution for preserving Montauk’s coastline. This also included the adoption of the Coastal Assessment and Resiliency Plan in 2021. “CCOM, as the leading environmental organization in Montauk for the past 53 years, thanks Governor Hochul for drawing public attention to the urgent risk faced by our vulnerable shoreline in the face of climate change and sea level rise. CCOM is committed to working with our partners in government on responses to the imminent danger to our community. We look forward to the delivery later this year of the sand nourishment for Montauk’s downtown beaches as part of the Federal Fire Island to Montauk Point plan to offer medium-term coastal stabilization.”
In addition to the completion of the shoreline stabilization work, the Montauk Historical Society completed $2 million in renovations to the historic lighthouse and keeper’s residence. The lighthouse restoration work was undertaken concurrent with the revetment work and supported by more than $435,000 in New York State funding.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) awarded a $313,500 historic preservation grant and Empire State Development awarded a $125,000 Capital Grant, recommended by the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council in support of the Montauk Point Lighthouse as a premier historical, cultural, and recreational destination. The funding, from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) through the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC), addressed damage to the lighthouse tower’s stone façade and secured the long-term structural integrity of the historic structure.
Additional private funds were secured by the Montauk Historical Society to help support the restoration of the 1796 lighthouse tower, 1860 keeper’s residence, and the newly refurbished Oceans Institute, a museum focusing on the health of the ocean. Among the new features is an interactive virtual aquarium that is filled with local sea creatures, from scallops to whales.
OPRHP Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “We are thrilled to be able to help preserve the iconic Montauk Lighthouse. It is one of the key historic destinations not only in New York State but our nation and we congratulate all those who worked hard to keep it standing for generations to come.”
Hope Knight, president/CEO and commissioner of Empire State Development, added, “The Montauk Point Lighthouse stands tall once more as a monument to our past and a destination for cultivating connections to Long Island’s coastal culture. Its restoration is a testament to New York State’s dedication to preserving the legacy of this national landmark and fostering moments of joy, learning, and connection for all who visit this iconic shoreline symbol.”
“With the reopening of the renovated Montauk Point Lighthouse, a beacon of history and culture on Long Island illuminates once more. New York State takes great pride in providing a place where families, history enthusiasts, and cultural explorers can come together and create cherished memories that will shine far into the future,” Empire State Development Board Chairman Kevin Law said.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “We have come a long way since 1796, and so has the historic Montauk Point Lighthouse. It was slipping ever closer to the Atlantic’s waters, but with urgent federal funds and construction complete, the shoreline protections needed to keep this beacon of Long Island pride and tourism shining for years to come have been restored. I thank Governor Hochul, New York State DEC, and Suffolk County for their partnership, and of course the Army Corps of Engineers for its diligent work over many years to secure this magnificent structure. Now, one of our great jewels shining proudly on Long Island’s coastal crown will remain in place for years to come, and it ‘shore’ is pretty.”
NYS State Senator Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) said, “The Montauk lighthouse is an important symbol of the region’s maritime history and a beacon for the East End’s tourism and fishing industries. I applaud the efforts of our state and federal partners in protecting and preserving this historic landmark for future generations of New Yorkers and for visitors from around the world.”
NYS Assemblymember Fred W. Thiele Jr. (D-Sag Harbor) said, “The Montauk Lighthouse has been the iconic symbol of Long Island for generations. The completion of this revetment project will ensure the integrity of this historic beacon for future residents and visitors to enjoy. I was pleased to play a role in the public/private partnership that made this project possible by passing needed legislation many years ago in the State Legislature. My congratulations to the Montauk Historical Society for their vision and advocacy in seeing this project to its successful completion.”
“The Montauk Lighthouse, where the sun first rises on New York State, is not only an iconic symbol for New York but is a cherished landmark in the Town of East Hampton, representing a part of our nautical history stemming back to the early days of our nation. Thanks to major federal and New York State funding, and the efforts of the Montauk Historical Society, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the contractors who completed this massive project of restoring the stone revetment that protects it, the lighthouse will be here for generations to come,” said East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc.
Montauk Historical Society President Joseph Gaviola said the new revetment “will protect the Montauk Lighthouse for generations to come. This is seminal, multi-generational work and a wonderful example of a Public/Private Partnership that worked to preserve Long Island’s historic and iconic structure. As stewards of the oldest lighthouse in New York, a National Historic Landmark commissioned by George Washington, this is a dream come true.”