South Carolina’s Civil War-era Hunting Island Lighthouse will soon be getting an interior facelift.
The state’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism has awarded a $77,640 contract to E&D Contractors Inc., of Summerville, SC, to clean and coat the interior cast-iron elements of the 130-foot-tall, 137-year-old structure.
SC Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism
|No longer in active use, the 19th-century lighthouse is a popular tourist destination.|
First built in 1859 and reconstructed in 1875, the iconic black and white structure has become a fixture at Hunting Island State Park. No longer in use, it is the only publicly accessible lighthouse in the state.
A rotating light mimics the original lamp, and daily visitors climb the 175-step spiral staircase for a birds-eye view of the Atlantic Ocean, beaches, and surrounding semi-tropical maritime forest. The lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hunting Island’s Lighthouse is one of only two in the United States designed to be disassembled and moved if required. Cast-iron sections weighing up to 1,200 pounds each were bolted together to form a shell, which was then lined with brick, according to LighthouseFriends.org.
In 1889, when severe beach erosion brought the water within 150 feet from the tower, the tower was in fact moved 1.3 miles inland.
|Visitors can climb the 175-step spiral staircase to take in the ocean view. In its operating days, the lighthouse could be seen for 17 miles.|
The Lighthouse Friends website predicts another move may be in store for the structure, as the Atlantic continues to claim several feet of the sandy shore each year. The tower now stands 400 feet from the shoreline at high tide, the group says.
The lighthouse was previously closed for repairs in May 2003 when cracks were discovered in several of its 175 cast-iron steps, the Parks Department said. It took more than 18 months to repair the cracks and install steel braces beneath them for reinforcement.
The original structure is easily distinguished from the modern enhancements, thanks to the unpainted silver-gray braces that stand out in sharp contrast to the black cast-iron stairs.
“This protects the lighthouse’s historic integrity,” the Parks Department said.
The current renovation project involves cleaning and coating the structure's interior cast-iron elements, including stairs and landings. The existing coatings contain lead; therefore, containment is required.
The interior cast iron will be abrasive blast-cleaned to SSPC-SP 6 (commercial), and select exterior cast iron is to be brush-off blasted (SSPC-SP 7), according to project documents.
An acrylic-epoxy or epoxy system will be applied to interior iron elements, while select exterior iron is to be coated using an epoxy-polyurethane system.
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