The Lighthouse Tower, designed by architect James Renwick, has been a prominent historic feature of Roosevelt Island since its construction in 1872. The Lighthouse was partially restored in the 1940s, complete with a low pitch 10 - sided lantern and was inducted into the National Register of Historic Places and designated a New York City Landmark in 1972 and 1976 respectively. In 2019, Thomas A. Fenniman Architects was hired to create construction documents to increase the useful life of the structure, eliminate potentially unsafe conditions, and reduce operating and maintenance expenses.
The exterior and interior restoration of the tower, included masonry restoration, concrete bracket and platform repair, railing restoration, replacement of spiral staircase, door and window restoration, as well as electrical and site work. These repairs remediated the many life and safety issues addressed for long-term use and will additionally decrease the operation and maintenance costs associated with the tower. “It is truly an honor to have rehabilitated this historic landmark for the Roosevelt Island community and visitors alike to enjoy. The Lighthouse Tower is a cornerstone and simply one of Roosevelt Islands treasures. I would like to thank our RIOC team, the architect and contractor for their work on this project.”, said Shelton J. Haynes, President and CEO of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC).
The restoration aspects and new lantern design were approved by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Landmarks Preservation Commission. “I am thrilled for the community to see the colored up-lighting on the tower and enjoy this space again. The conclusion of this project marks the last phase of our renovations to the northern tip of the Lighthouse Park that began with the renovations of the foot bridges in 2019.”, expressed Prince R. Shah, Assistant Director of Capital Planning and Projects at RIOC.
With the implementation of the required design measures, the Lighthouse Tower becomes a transformative symbol that all of New York will be able to identify as Roosevelt Island. “Our goal in the restoration of this historic lighthouse was to balance two factors: The preservation of the original masonry structure and to pay homage to the long-lost unique lantern designed by Renwick and removed sometime in the 1930’s” said Thomas A. Fenniman, Project Architect. “I am extremely proud of the accomplishments and commitment to quality by the entire team in restoring what I believe will be a true beacon at the northern tip of the island.” The northern end of Lighthouse Park will provide safe outdoor space for all to enjoy for many years to come.