Hereford Inlet Light Station
Phase III of a four phase restoration of Hereford has just been completed. Funded by a tea-21 (transportation) grant, the exterior of the Light Station now looks as it did when it was constructed in 1874.
Funding is already in place to proceed with the final phase of restoration (iv), which will encompass the entire interior. This work may begin as early as the Fall of 2004.
The Hereford Lighthouse Commission, the stewards of the station, can now focus on a plan talked about for some years. It wants to acquire the adjoining property where the old Coast Guard Station “Hereford,” its coat house and maintenance garage are located. This property has been occupied by the NJ State Marine Police since 1964, when the Coast guard vacated this and the Light Station.
The Coast guard Station was constructed in the 1938-1939. Preceding this on the same property were the 1888, 1871, and the 1849 U.S. Life Saving Stations.
The Plan is to combine this important site with the Light Station to become “Anglesea Historic Maritime Village.” Both properties share a history a history that is very much related in missions, persons, and events.
Once the Light Station’s interiors are restored, it would become a living history museum (and still a navigational aid). The gift shop and many of the current displays would be relocated to the other building. This building (Coast Guard) would also contain large interpretive displays on all related maritime history including the U.S. Life Saving Service, U.S. Coast Guard, State Marine Police and the early Anglesea Fishing Fleet. There would also be space for a small museum just focusing on North Wildwood’s history. The idea of even reconstructing the 1871 Life Saving Station somewhere on the property has been discussed.
Among the benefits of acquiring this other facility are office and meeting room space, proper archival storage, handicap access and restrooms. The boathouse is being considered for a place to house the City of North Wildwood’s Tourism Office, which would be an ideal situation for both tourism and the Maritime Village.
All visitors would first enter into the Coast Guard Building where they would purchase tickets in the gift shop, view the orientation film and then visit all the museum displays in this building. They would then exit through a door that would take them on a path leading to the Light Station. A tour guide would meet them and give them a guided tour through the building. Of course they would then be free to visit the gardens. Anyone could still visit the gardens without paying admission or going through the building.
The initial steps have been taken to have the Coast Guard Buildings listed on the NJ Register of Historic Places. Once all of the buildings have been acquired, the Commission would begin the process of restoring them as they have done with the Light Station.
This project would not just benefit the Light Station. The NK State Marine Police have not had access to launch or retrieve their boats for many years due to changes in the Inlet and the construction of a seawall. They currently have to take their boats by trailer to area marinas. The large old wood frame buildings on the site have required a lot of repair work and really need constant maintenance at this location. A more modern maintenance free building at another location would be more practical for them.
The Lighthouse Commission along with the City, County, and State Legislators are trying to find a more suitable location on the water somewhere in Southern Cape May County for the State Police. Everyone’s eyes are on the Cape May Coast Guard Base at this time. This location would provide an excellent harbor, access to the ocean and Back Bay areas and offer a secure site for a police facility. Any site would have to be completely acceptable to the State Police Administration. If a building is needed at a new location the Commission may have to help seek funding for this.
If a move does happen, the Lighthouse Commission would have to request the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (the owners of the old Hereford Coast Guard Property as well as the Light Station), to lease this property to the Commission allowing them to be the new occupants and stewards of the site.
Our Mayor and Council have vowed to support our efforts but we need as much support as possible. All friends of Maritime History could help us by writing a letter of support for our mission. We will pass on your letter to the appropriate persons and agencies.
A million thanks.
Please Note: This is a page from the Hereford Lighthouse archives, information may no longer be current.
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