In Orleans County, a shoreline monument is facing a revenue shortage after having to cancel its biggest fundraiser of the year.
The Oak Orchard Lighthouse currently standing at Lake Ontario in Point Breeze may only be ten years old, but it represents history going back to the 1870s.
“Over the years, this area developed a harbor. It’s the biggest port between Niagara and the Genesee River, or the biggest harbor. And there were ships that came through here,” Board of Trustees president Richard Anderson said.
The original Oak Orchard Lighthouse was destroyed in a storm in 1916, but was reconstructed in 2010.
“I had made a model of that lighthouse based on pictures I had seen, and some folks saw it, and a few people said why don’t we get together a committee and see if we can’t raise the funds to build a full-sized replica of that lighthouse?” Anderson said.
Since then, Anderson says thousands of visitors from all over the world have come to explore the lighthouse each year.
“Right now the farthest anyone has come from is Antarctica, and I don’t think they’re going to come from further than that,” Anderson said.
But not this year.
COVID-19 has not only cut down on visits to the historic lighthouse, but it also interrupted their largest fundraising opportunity: an annual dinner that raised thousands of dollars. Already operating on a tiny budget, it’s a big blow to the lighthouse.
“They help defray costs of things like insurance, to cover the lighthouse in case of damage,” Anderson said.
So Anderson says they’re trying to raise money in different ways: with new merchandise online, membership fees, and even memorial bricks for $75.
“We’d be happy to see to it that a brick gets cut in memory of someone they wanted to, or just for the sake of having their name on a brick,” Anderson said.
Though he doesn’t believe it's in any immediate danger, he says the lighthouse is something worth preserving.
“Most people think it’s just wonderful, they love it. Very few people have come in and said this stinks,” Anderson said.
Not for what it is, but for what it holds.
“My pleasure in this is sharing the history, some stories, some things that happened here and the people that were here. To me, that’s the most fascinating part of the whole thing,” Anderson said.