The announcement Monday that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had given final approval to the designation of the Montauk Lighthouse as a national historic landmark was more than welcome news: It gives the Light, which stands on an eroding Montauk bluff, priority status in seeking federal grants and aid should it be damaged in a hurricane or other storms.
The Montauk Historical Society, which owns the Light, began its quest six years ago, enlisting the help of Robert Hefner, an East Hampton historic preservation consultant, in gathering supportive material, and going to Washington to make the case.
The Light was built in 1796 as part of a system that helped guide sea traffic to and from the growing Port of New York, and it was for this, not its appeal as a present-day tourist attraction, that the landmarks committee of the National Parks Service advisory board recommended it receive the distinction. The Light now joins three national landmarks on the South Fork, the Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner house and studio in Springs, the Thomas Moran house in East Hampton Village, and the Old Whalers Church in Sag Harbor — each a significant part of this country’s cultural heritage.
The designation comes just as the Lighthouse Museum is about to reopen for the season. A celebration is truly in order.