An Artist’s View With Mary Anne Lund

Written By: KPN - Jul• 12•14


Eatons Neck Light
Watercolor
16×20

When we explore the nature of our love for lighthouses, whether it is for their beauty, romance or usefulness – we’re fascinated!  Countless books, poems and music have been written. We take walks along a beach under the far-reaching light of a watchful beacon and are comforted by its presence. We visit their gift shops because we want a souvenir to remind us of our visit.  Weddings have been held in an area of lighthouse/museums, and many a lighthouse has been made into State Parks.  Montauk Point Light, the oldest on Long Island, is the focal point of a State Park and now has a working airport beacon with the strength of 2.5 million candela. Novels have been written with a lighthouse theme, and some draw us to envision the lonely wife of a seaman who stands on the widow’s walk overlooking the sea for her husband’s return.  And, of course, artists have rendered countless paintings of our beloved beacons, and they tend to sell well because of its popularity.  What’s not to like?

This column deals only with our nearby, second oldest lighthouse on Long Island, Eatons Neck Lighthouse.  I try here to give thought and a brief history to the seriousness of lives lost at sea because of shipwrecks (two on one day in 1873), as well as the danger and isolation for the keeper and his family.  All this effort and bravery on the part of different agencies such as the U.S. Life Saving Service* and U.S. Coast Guard, builders, volunteers and keeper’s of the light, have been done to keep the sea a safe place to journey and a guiding light.  Since these lighthouses such as Montauk Point at the very end of Long Island with extreme winds and waves from the Atlantic Ocean, and Eatons Neck which gained notoriety for the submerged rocks running a mile out from the shore into Long Island Sound having been treacherous for mariners on Long Island’s North Shore.  What must it have been like to have lived through the early periods of our country?   So, now a brief history of what it took to make it work:

* The U.S. Life-Saving Service merged with the Revenue Cutter Service to form the U.S. Coast Guard in 1915

Perched atop a hill along Long Island Sound, the 73-foot tall Eatons Neck Light shines from almost 140 feet above Long Island Sound.  To give some history, in 1798, the owner of Eaton’s Neck, John Gardiner, already maintaining an oil lamp on a pole to guide passing ships when the new federal government paid him $500.00 for 10 acres that it planned to use as the site of the Island’s second lighthouse, after Montauk Point.  Congress appropriated $13,250.00 for the light to be built. The same year, John Sloss Hobart, former owner of Eaton’s Neck, became a U.S. senator and helped get a lighthouse bill passed and signed by President John Adams.  The lighthouse was built in 1798 of local fieldstone by John McComb, the same man who built the Montauk Light. It was lit for the first time on January 1, 1799 with a single oil lamp. Thomas Burgher of New York City was the first keeper, and the station became operational shortly thereafter.

In 1837, an inspection determined that the light was not visible beyond 7 miles, so in 1838, 12 lamps with 13-inch reflectors were installed. In 1850, thirteen lamps with fifteen-inch reflectors were installed to improve visibility. In 1842, nine-inch reflectors were installed in the light.

In 1850, thirteen lamps with fifteen-inch reflectors were installed. Finally, in 1858, the lighthouse received a third order Fresnel lens. The light was electrified around 1921 and automated in 1961.  Eatons Neck Lighthouse is on the National Historical Register. Currently,  Eatons Neck light station serves as a U.S. Coast Guard Base and encompasses 225 square miles of Long Island Sound from Glen Cove to Port Jefferson.

In late 2006, The Kings Park Heritage Museum commissioned me to do a watercolor rendering of the lighthouse.  With the lighthouse in the background, the portrait was presented to members of the Coast Guard to hang in the boathouse. I had actually painted two different renderings of the lighthouse, as well as commissioned watercolor rendering of the boathouse for the Heritage Museum. One year after my commissioned work was hung, the boathouse built in 1936 was badly destroyed by a fire on Christmas Eve 2008.  A new 10,000-square-foot boathouse was built to replace the original, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Just a word about the Eatons Neck area:  It is a peninsula which extends into Long Island Sound. It connects to the mainland of Long Island at Northport through the Asharoken isthmus. The area is surrounded by beaches but is heavily wooded with hills and valleys.  It is a rich in birds and other wildlife.

The watercolor rendering shown on the bottom is a second rendering of the Eatons Neck Lighthouse.  One was presented to the Eatons Neck Coast Guard Boat Station. The second watercolor rendering was auctioned by the Heritage Museum. Giclee prints are available. To see more of my work click here.

Eatons Neck Lighthouse II
Watercolor
16×20
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Mary Anne Lund is a fine art impressionist landscape painter specializing in watercolor and oil painting renderings of seashore, wetlands, marshes, and other scenic and historical sites of Long Island and, more recently, Connecticut. She has studied with noted accomplished artists through the years and is a member of the Art League of Long Island, Dix Hills, NY, Wet Paints Studio Group, Sayville, NY, Lyme Art Association, Old Lyme, CT, Mystic Art Center, Mystic, Ct., and East Hampton Art Association, East Hampton, Ct. Mary Anne, a native Long Islander, has a home in Kings Park on the North Shore of Long Island, New York, from where she has drawn much of her inspiration and compositions.

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