Character and sense of place often can be found within a national park's cultural resources. But if those resources are historic, they can be in danger of vanishing without proper attention. At Cape Cod National Seashore, the friends group is seeing that a turn-of-the-20th-century life-saving station is getting that attention.
The Old Harbor U.S. Life-Saving Station now found at Race Point on the seashore is one of 13 life-saving stations that once dotted Cape Cod. It originally stood at Nauset Beach at the Chatham Harbor entrance, but was moved to its present location in 1977 when it was threatened by shoreline erosion.
But that move wasn't complete with a top-to-bottom restoration. The National Park Service recently completed a nearly $500,000 restoration of the building's exterior, and now Friends of the Cape Cod National Seashore are in the middle of a campaign to raise enough funds to restore the interior to its circa 1900 look and feel.
This is no easy task when you appreciate the building is more than a century old and furnishings were quite a bit different, in general, in 1900, and there were a number of items specific to life-saving stations.
"Friends has begun a campaign to raise funds to return the station to its 1900 appearance. Our objective is to promote a better understanding of the rich history of the U.S. Lifesaving Service in general and to offer an authentic glimpse of those who bravely manned these stations," says the organization.
"The types of furnishings needed have been well-researched and documented from early supply lists and property inventories. Our charge is to faithfully follow the established historical plan as we conduct our campaign to purchase or accurately reproduce furnishings, from cook stoves to storm clothes, from sand anchors to a surfboat wagon."
The friends group is trying to raise $180,000 for the work. So far they've been able to raise about half of that total in pledges. The full $180,000 will enable the non-profit organization to "purchase all items documented to have been present in the station in 1900. From the cook stove and heating stoves, and books and beds, to a boat wagon and Lyle gun, and rain slickers and dinner plates-the items we need span all price ranges."
"Our campaign will be successful when people who are passionate about maritime history and historical interpretation will join with us to bring this significant building to life," the group says on its website.
So far the Friends of Cape Cod National Seashore has been able to purchase a cook stove for the kitchen; heating stoves for mess room and crew's quarters; 11 beds for crew's quarters, spare room, and keeper's room; seven hand-crafted chairs for the crew's quarters; lanterns, chamber pot, telephone, dominoes; pillows and blankets for crew's quarters; shelves and books for the crew's quarters; and window shades for all rooms.
But to reach their goal, both dollar-wise and in terms of restoring the life-saving station, the friends group could use your help. Here is a glance at various giving levels and the types of furnishings they will enable the organization to obtain for the station:
* Under $100: Multiple contributions in this giving level would be combined to fund the purchase of such items as a compass, wash basins and rubber boots.
* $100-$500: Contributions in this range would fund such items as signal flags and staffs, a ladder and Wreck Report Log.
* $500-$1000: Contributions at this level would fund such items as an oak bookcase, 18-foot oar, and anchor and line.
* $1000-$5000: Contributions in this range would purchase such items as a barometer, a library case, Hawser line and Cutter and interpretive panels.
* Over $5,000: Contributions in this giving level would fund such items as an ash table or a surfboat wagon. Our most expensive items are reproductions of rare and unique historical items requiring custom construction. At this giving level there is the opportunity to specify an item you would like to fund. Please contact the friends group for current needs.