Visitors to the Pigeon Point Lighthouse who return each year for the annual mid-November lens lighting will have to stay home this year — and likely for the next few years as well.
The 2011 event was cancelled because the lens needs to be moved before the lighthouse restoration can begin, according to an update written for the website of the San Mateo Coast Natural History Association by Julie Barrow, Docent Coordinator at the Pigeon Point Light Station Historic Park in Pescadero.
The lens is expected to be moved in November, according to the history association.
Instead of illuminating the South Coast for the one night a year that the lens is put into service, it will be awaiting transfer to an adjacent fog signal building where it will stay for the next few years to avoid damage during the restoration process.
As the history association reported in its July newsletter, State Parks San Mateo Coast Sector Superintendent Paul Keel said that the lighthouse built in 1871 has been in need of restoration since 2001.
Even before it was deemed structurally unsound ten years ago, two sections of the iron "belt course" that surrounds the lighthouse tower broke off from the tower, the history association reported.
According to the history association's July newsletter, Keel said that "inadequate maintenance" and the "severe coastal environment" are the reasons behind the lighthouse's need for restoration.
The newsletter also reports that the lower tower of the lighthouse and oil house need to be restored as well.
According to Keel, the Hind Foundation is paying for the costs to remove the lens through a $175,000 grant.
The entire restoration is estimated to cost nine to ten million dollars and could take up to five years to complete, the history association notes.
See what the lighthouse looks when its Fresnel lens is lit up by watching the video in the media box to the right of this article.