The inference by the Friends of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse’s new sign that the Town of Bristol does not support the lighthouse tower with a portion of park admission fees is disingenuous at best and a slap in the face of all those Bristol citizens who have worked tirelessly since 1940 to protect and maintain the lighthouse tower and park grounds.

In 1940, the Town of Bristol was granted the rights, title and interest for “public park purposes” to all of the buildings and grounds excepting the lighthouse tower itself, which remained the responsibility of the federal government.

The Coast Guard retained responsibility for all maintenance of the tower, but the keeper’s house — now The Fishermen’s Museum — the oil house and the bell tower, along with the park grounds became the sole responsibility of the Town of Bristol. Restroom facilities, water and septic systems and the visitors center were all added later and paid with admission fees and generous donations from Bristol citizens and local businesses.

For 77 years the Town of Bristol has provided safe, clean, affordable public access and educational programs for everyone wishing to enjoy Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park, unquestionably the resonant and enduring image of our Bristol identity.

The dismal history of how the tower lease was granted to the American Lighthouse Foundation rather than the Town of Bristol remains for another discussion, but it needs to be noted that in numerous town meetings since, the citizens of the Town of Bristol have voted overwhelmingly to reunite the tower with the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park.

Surely, the American Lighthouse Foundation provides a necessary service for abandoned and derelict lighthouses, certainly those situated on uninhabited islands and in desperate need of help. And I have no quarrel with those good volunteers of the Friends of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse who only wish well for our lighthouse.

I would suggest, however, to the American Lighthouse Foundation and Friends of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse that they consider contributing to the Town of Bristol for the services the town has been providing since 1940 instead of demeaning Bristol in an offensive effort to emotionally increase their donations. Those very services that make the donations they do receive possible in the first place.

And yes, donations are down at the museum, as well since 2007, yet the Fishermen’s Museum has returned $260,657 to the Town of Bristol from our donations since 1972.
That’s right, over a quarter of a million dollars returned to the citizens of Bristol.

At the museum, also a 501 (c) (3) non-profit institution, we realize that giving back to the town and its citizens promotes and reinforces the better nature of our society. I only wish others were as enlightened.

John Allan
Director of The Fishermen’s Museum