May 5, 2009
"Southold Historical Society acquires important L.I. Lighthouse Painting!"
SOUTHOLD, NY. The Southold Historical Society is pleased to announce that it has acquired an important 19th century oil painting of one of the regions great lighthouses, the Plum Island Lighthouse.
"We are quite delighted to have found this important painting," stated Geoffrey Fleming, the Society's Director. "19th century paintings depicting known locations on Long Island are extremely rare and difficult to acquire. This highly detailed, folk style painting of the Plum Island lighthouse is a real treasure for us to have in our collection," he continued.
The painting, which dates to c. 1875-80, shows the second Plum Island Lighthouse located on the Island facing Plum Gut in Orient, Long Island. The lighthouse is surrounded by a number of support buildings, including the original landing and boathouse, a residential building, and even an outhouse. Photographs from the period confirm the location of the buildings. On the far left of the painting two sailing vessels lie docked while coming out of the fog is a steamship, likely traveling to the various hamlet piers located along the bayside of Southold Town.
According to East End Lighthouses, a private foundation, lighthouses on Plum Island go back as far as the 1820's. In 1826, Richard Jerome sold 3 acres of the 840 acre Plum Island to the U. S. Government for $90, and the first beacon, a 40 foot rough stone tower equipped with ten lamps with reflectors arranged on two rotating copper tables, was constructed. In 1867, the masonry of the dwelling and tower were found to be soft and crumbling and the structures were leaking badly so from 1869-1870 the current masonry structure was built. This 131 year old granite lighthouse marked the treacherous waters off the western point of the Island until 1978. Originally it had a 350,000 candle power light with a range of 14 miles.
The painting, which was once in the collection of the prestigious Kennedy Galleries in New York City, was discovered in Massachusetts where it recently came out of a private collection. The Society purchased the painting and it will soon go on display at the Society's Nautical Museum at Horton Point Lighthouse in Southold. "We were very pleased that the entire purchase price for this work was provided by a group of generous donors at the Society," stated Fleming.
Those interested in viewing the painting first hand will be able to do so at the Southold Historical Society's Nautical museum at Horton Point Lighthouse which opens for the season Memorial Day Weekend (May 23- 25). The Museum is located at the end of Lighthouse Road in Southold.
For further information, including directions to the museum, please contact the Southold Historical Society at (631) 765-5500 or on the web at www.southoldhistoricalsociety.org.