News Feature

Isle au Haut
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, November 30, 2017
Lighthouse challenge seeks $15,000 in matching donations
Book sales count

The Isle au Haut Lighthouse

The Isle au Haut Lighthouse is best viewed from the water.

Photo courtesy of Douglas Cornman/Maine Seacoast Mission

by Anne Berleant

As the first phase of a major restoration of the Isle au Haut Lighthouse begins, a local couple has offered a $15,000 fundraising challenge, saying they will match all donations received by December 31 up to that amount. Tax free donations may be made to the Friends of Isle au Haut Lighthouse, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Nick and Colleen Filler, who spend nearly half the year on the island, are behind the fundraising windfall.

“We’ve been going to Isle au Haut for almost 40 years now,” Nick Filler said. “We’re pretty devoted to Isle au Haut and all the things that make it what it is. The lighthouse seemed to us one of several symbols of Isle au Haut.”

The first phase includes steel repair work, interior masonry and repairs to the bridge that goes to the shore. Already, preliminary bracing has been placed to hold the tower in place during renovations and the lighthouse committee is interviewing contractors.

“This is a very exciting time for the Isle au Haut Lighthouse,” said committee member Jeff Burke, who wrote The Lighthouse & Me: History, Memoir, & Imagination, with proceeds going to the restoration.

The book and the challenge are being promoted together, with sales through December 31 used to meet the challenge, Burke said. Toward that end, the Lighthouse Committee and Friends of the Lighthouse mailed 1,200 postcards to former guests of the lighthouse to be received by GivingTuesday, November 28. The book is available on Amazon.com and on Isle au Haut.

“Orders are coming in,” Burke said.

The cost of completing this phase is a fluid number, with estimates from engineers coming in “somewhere between $65,000 and $160,000,” Burke said. An $8,500 grant from the U.S. Lighthouse Society will cover the steel repair work, and the State Historic Preservation Office paid for drawings, specifications, techniques and phasing with an $11,000 grant. Plans include a working replica of the fog bell that hung over the water.