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CHNS seeks site preservation ideas for Ocracoke Light Station

Cape Hatteras National Seashore is seeking site preservation ideas for the Ocracoke Light Station at two public meetings this month.

The purpose of the meetings is to receive public input on how to sustainably preserve the historic resources at the Ocracoke Light Station in the wake of recent storm damage and in consideration of future impacts from climate change and sea level rise while providing visitor access to the site.

Learn more about this planning effort in the Seashore’s Ocracoke Light Station newsletter.

In-Person Meeting Option: Thursday, May 6, 2021, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Berkley Barn at Berkley Manor, 58 Water Plant Rd., Ocracoke. If the ferry isn’t running due to inclement weather, the in-person meeting will be rescheduled for a later date.

Virtual Meeting Option: Monday, May 10, 2021, from 6 to 7 p.m.

Online Meeting Link is the best option for viewing online presentation from computer or smartphone.

Audio Only: 202-640-1187, 38403551# (best option for people with poor or no internet coverage). Audio only attendees will not be able to view the presentation, therefore, all attendees are encouraged to use a computer or smartphone to connect via online meeting link.

The public is invited to submit comments to Parkplanningnps.gov/commentform.cfm?doucmentid111919 about the preservation ideas presented at the meetings and described in the newsletter until May 28, 2021.

Once a range of preservation ideas are gained and refined through the public meetings, the Seashore will move to the next phase, which will include assessing compliance needs under the National Historic Preservation Act, National Environmental Policy Act and other environmental regulations.

The Seashore’s park planning page states: “The Ocracoke Light Station and supporting structures have been damaged by Hurricanes Matthew, Florence, and Dorian (2017-2019). The Seashore anticipates that at some time in the future, the area will be overtaken by sea level rise and actions may need to be taken to preserve the historic structures at the site.

“The purpose of this effort is to sustainably preserve the historic resources at the Ocracoke Light Station in the wake of recent storm damage and in consideration of future impacts from climate change and sea level rise while providing visitor access to the site.”

The following are potential site preservation ideas that will be presented at the meetings:

Option 1 – Repair as is: Repair storm damage and preserve site as is.

Option 2 – Repair and Elevate: Repair storm damage, replace existing shotcrete at lighthouse with historic parge coat and elevate all structures, except the lighthouse.

Option 3 – Rehabilitate to 1823 Site: Remove the keeper’s quarters 1929 addition and restore/rehabilitate the keeper’s quarters using as many original features (e.g., bricks) from the house as possible; restore/rehabilitate the light station structures and site to the 1823-1854 Period of Interpretation; and elevate all structures, except the lighthouse. Restoration/rehabilitation to the 1823-1854 Period of Interpretation would include:

  • Replacing existing shotcrete at lighthouse with historic parge coat and exposing original stone foundation at lighthouse.
  • Replacing existing metal spiral staircase with historically accurate wood staircase.
  • Remove other structures except for the 1823 privy.

Option 4 – Relocate: Relocate the lighthouse and the keeper’s quarters to a higher elevation, more storm- and flood-resistant location on Ocracoke Island.

The comment period is open until May 28, 2021.

On the Seashore’s planning page lists buildings associated with the Ocracoke Light Station complex. Those buildings are the double keepers’ quarters, carpenter’s shop, store house, cisterns, privy, oil house, generator house and lighthouse.

The Ocracoke Lighthouse was built in 1823 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. It is the oldest functioning lighthouse in North Carolina and the second oldest lighthouse still in service in the United States. A wooden picket fence encloses the station, and several historic live oak, eastern red cedar and two bald cypress trees survive in the landscape near the dwelling.

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