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Friendly Edifices

From lost painting of White Lighthouse by Child Hassem

SEACOAST BOOKS

Jane Porter offers the final word on Piscataqua lighthouses – over 500 pages worth. This definitive volume, the last in the Portsmouth Marine Society collection, is everything you need to know about the early history of navigation aids along America’s Smallest Seacoast (sm) and South Coast Maine.

 

 

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All about Nubble Light, Boon Island Light, Whale’s Back Light, White Island Light and Fort Constitution Light

FRIENDLY EDIFICES
Piscataqua Lighthouses and Other Aids to Navigation 1771-1939
By JaneMolloy  Porter
568 pages, 168 illustrations
Portsmouth Marine Society
hardcover, $35
BUY the book from the publisher 

Friendly Edifices, a book about Piscataqua Lighthouses by Jane PorterI have a special feeling for this large volume that focuses in detail on fice lighthouses in the Piscataqua Region. As author Jane Porter notes at the opening, this project began in 1982 when the idea was suggested to her. She finished it 23 years later. When we bought our house in Portsmouth from Jane years ago, the almost completed manuscript and notes filled a four-drawer filing cabinet that, for a time, sat in our spare bedroom. It had become the project from Hell, but Jane eventually picked up where she left off and completed this significant work. Now that it has hit the bookstores with its heavenly cover by painter Child Hassem, I imagine Jane is walking on air, and deservedly so.

A writer emailed me recently wondering why he had never seen the amazing painting of White Island light be Hassam before. He Googled the topic and came up with an AP report noting that the work had been stolen in 1985. Celia Thaxter’s grand-daughter Rosamund Thaxter of Kittery reported the loss to police. The sentimental value at the time was enormous since, as everyone around her knows, Celia spent roughly ten years of her childhood on White Island and later came to know Childe Hassam as a frequent visitor to her literary summer salon on the Isles of Shoals. Roughly 10% of Hassam’s paintings were completed on Appledore. The painting was recovered in 2002 when a Massachusetts art dealer turned a potential seller into the FBI.

Meanwhile, White Island lighthouse itself was crumbling. But in the last few years local middle school students under teacher Sue Reynolds have raised the funds to restore White Light. The painting has been recovered and Jane Porter’s book is on the shelves. Life is good. – JDR

Box made by Eliphalet Grover at Boon Island. Courtesy Old York Historical Society

NOTES FROM JEREMY D'ENTREMONT
"The Lighthouse Guy" from his review in Lighthouse Digest magazine.

"Friendly Edifices is not your typical breezy coffee-table lighthouse book. But don’t let the weighty volume’s thickness (568 pages) scare you. Porter’s engaging writing and wealth of colorful  -- detail will keep you engrossed… The depth of Porter’s research is rare — perhaps even unprecedented — for a lighthouse book of this type… There’s much detail here that’s never before made it into the pages of a book. For instance, Porter tells us that New Hampshire’s colonial Governor John Wentworth expected that the first (1771) Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse would be maintained free of charge by the soldiers at Fort William and Mary. The fort’s commander, Captain John Cochran, had other ideas, and even threatened to let the lighthouse "stand useless" if he wasn’t provided adequate funds. Approval for more funds came in the spring of 1774, but the whole issue was rendered moot when local citizens stormed the fort that December, carrying off gunpowder and other supplies in one of the first overt acts of the American Revolution.

CONTINUE Friendly Edifices

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