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It's Official: Lighthouse Deemed National Landmark [UPDATED]

After six year process, 1796 lighthouse earns federal recognition.

The ink hasn't quite dried, but it's more than officials, now: The is a designated a National Historic Landmark.

Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior Ken Salazar signed off on the designation on Monday afternoon, which marks the end of a six year process to have the oldest lighthouse in New York federally recognized.

Brian Pope, the assistant lighthouse manager, said he received an email of confirmation on Tuesday morning. "It's fantastic," he said "We're hoping, in August, to have a celebration out at the lighthouse to thank everybody."

Built in 1796, the lighthouse promoted New York as the receiving port for British manufactured goods in America. It was one of the first seacoast lighthouses authorized by Congress.

The lighthouse is the 12th place on Long Island to achieve landmark status.

"Commissioned by George Washington, the lighthouse has been important to maritime travel for well over two hundred years," said town Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc, who is also a charter boat captain.

Town Councilwoman Theresa Quigley said, "The Montauk Lighthouse is a destination, a cultural statement, and now has been recognized for what we in East Hampton have long known, that of being one of our country's historic landmarks."

U.S. Senator Kristin Gillibrand, D-New York, has said the designation has the potential to spark tourism growth and economic activity in Montauk.

Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson agreed. "Anytime you get recognize as the best in class, it has to have a positive impact," he said. Wilkinson, a former member of the lighthouse committee, has been advocating for its landmark status. The lighthouse has been on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.

"This recognition is well deserved and long overdue for one of our nation's historical treasures," said president Paul Monte. "Federal landmark status will certainly give the lighthouse additional exposure to the traveling public thereby encouraging more people to visit and experience the history of the light and its magnificent setting."

Wilkinson pointed to the hard work of Eleanor Ehrhardt, a member of the lighthouse committee who started the process for the Montauk Historical Society, which owns the lighthouse, in 2006.

Reached on Monday afternoon, Ehrhardt said it took the whole committee's work and the help of Robert Hefner, the former town historian who wrote parts of the application to prove the lighthouse was significant to developing New York as a port. "Without him, it would never have happened," Ehrhardt said.

"The historical society works extremely hard to preserve and protect the integrity of our Montauk Lighthouse," said Laraine Creegan, the chamber's executive director. "I would certainly agree that this will boost the economy and contribute significantly to the tourism industry in our area.

"The Montauk Lighthouse is not only a local treasure, it is a National treasure. People come to Montauk from all over to see it. In the last couple of years it has also become a destination in the holiday season for those who wish to see it decorated, " Van Scoyoc said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Rep. Tim Bishop, D-Southampton, said, "I am proud that this iconic structure, which is so important to residents of Eastern Long Island, is now recognized as one of America's historical crown jewels." Bishop, along with Gillibrand, had toward the designation.

He said New York now has 264 National Landmarks including seven in Suffolk County: in Sag Harbor; in East Hampton; Pollock-Krasner House in Springs; Fort Corchaug Archeological Site in Southold; William Sydney Mount House in Stony Brook; Old House in Cutchogue; and Priscilla in West Sayville.

Rob Longiaru March 06, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Great to see this finally happen! Ive been going to Montauk every year since I was 12 (I'm now 24). I've been there countless times and it never gets old. Truly a national treasure!
Jason Molinet March 06, 2012 at 05:13 PM
It's a Long Island landmark for sure.
tom March 07, 2012 at 01:47 AM
About time...now when we bring our house guests out to The End, it will be even more special.

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