Fund-raiser to benefit lighthouse renovation

The Annapolis Maritime Museum and the U.S. Lighthouse Society's Chesapeake Chapter will hold their first joint fund-raiser tomorrow, a "beach party" to benefit the Thomas Point Lighthouse Project.

The event, to be held at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Phillip Merrill Environment Center in Bay Ridge, was organized to raise public awareness of what Jeff Holland, executive director of the Annapolis Maritime Museum, called a "revolutionary" partnership among the museum, the U.S. Lighthouse Society, the city of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County.


The U.S. Department of the Interior turned over the historic lighthouse to the partnership May 1. It had been owned and operated by the Coast Guard.

Organizers hope to raise funds to renovate the 129- year-old lighthouse and the museum so that the lighthouse will be ready for public tours starting in May.


The idea of a beach party came from Jane Cox, a member of the museum's board of directors, and Henry I. Gonzalez, president of the Chesapeake chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.

"We wanted it to be nice, casual, Annapolis-style, ideally somewhere where you can see the lighthouse," Gonzalez said.

Organizers hope to make the beach party an annual event, he said.

This year, it is sponsored in part by four Annapolis businesses that donated $1,000 each: the Eastport Yachting Center, Davis's Pub, Boatyard Bar & Grill and the Ancilla II charter schooner. Bloomfield Associates donated $500.

The preservation project is expected to take three to five years and cost about $300,000. The U.S. Lighthouse Society and the Injured Workers Insurance Fund of Maryland, long-term sponsors of the project, have donated $10,000 apiece.

The museum and the lighthouse group hope to attract more long-term corporate sponsors. They have also applied for grants through the National Park Service and Anne Arundel County, and plan to apply for more.

Gonzalez said he hopes the beach party will raise $10,000. About 120 tickets have been sold.

The event will also serve as the release party for Thomas Point Light, a compilation CD by the Chesapeake Music Institute, composed of local folk and classical music artists who have lived on the Chesapeake Bay or drawn inspiration from it or the lighthouse. All proceeds from the CD will benefit the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse Project, and some artists featured on the CD will perform at the beach party.


Three pairs of tickets will be raffled off for a two-hour excursion that includes transportation by water taxi to the lighthouse and a tour of the inside.

A silent auction will be held for items such as prints, ink drawings and photographs of the lighthouse by local artists; restaurant gift certificates; a Zodiac inflatable boat; two round-trip airplane tickets on Independence Air; and other lighthouse merchandise.

Holland and Gonzalez said it is important that the lighthouse be opened to the public because it is a symbol of the Chesapeake Bay. The opportunity to go up into the lighthouse is "an amazing thing," he said.

Thomas Point, about 1 1/2 miles from Annapolis, is the last screw-pile lighthouse at its original location.

Tickets to the beach party are $40 and include admission, a dinner ticket, two drink coupons and entry into the raffle.

To buy tickets, call the museum at 410-295-0104.


The museum and the lighthouse society will hold another fund-raiser in the fall. Details are being worked out, Gonzalez said.

Information can be obtained at www.thomaspointlighthouse. org or