Montauk Lighthouse Renovation Project

by Sue Giustino

Montauk Music Festival concerts held at the Montauk Lighthouse is just one of the many ways that the Montauk Historical Society [MHS] raises funds for the much-needed lighthouse renovations. Due to Covid 19, some of the concerts had to be cancelled or postponed, but the August 21st Marshall Tucker Band Concert will get us back on track.

Prior to Covid, we held two successful August concerts, one with the surprise appearance of Paul Simon. In addition, the 10th Montauk Music Festival weekend was held at the lighthouse, which was also a great success. The revenue from these shows adds to the fund-raising efforts of the MHS and Light House Committee.

I had the opportunity to speak with Nick Racanelli who serves on both boards, and is also the chair of the Capital Campaign Committee charged with raising the $1.5+ million needed for the renovations.

The cost of this project is an additional expense to their nearly $1.6mill. annual operations budget. After a 2016 feasibility study was conducted, it was determined that in order to rectify the problems a complete exterior restoration was needed on the tower. Restoration of this magnitude hasn’t been done since the late 1800s. To accomplish this task, they started a major fund-raising campaign, and developed a three-part renovation plan.

Phase I- was completed in 2019 prior to Covid. It consisted of fixing and replacing the metalwork and glasswork at the top of the tower. Much of the tower’s problems came from the water seeping in from the top and down through into the walls, causing expansion and cracking of the mortar and stone.

Phase II- is where they are now. The 225 yr. old, 110 ft. tower has been stripped down, limestone blocks have been replaced with original material, and mortar and joints have been repointed with the material originally used in the 1700’s. Now it needs to cure for about a year when it will be repainted to its former glory.

Phase III- will be recoating to the original colors with paint to meet the environmental challenges at the lighthouse.

Mr. Racanelli is committed to this project and has been instrumental in the fund-raising success. He mentioned that corporations and individuals have been very supportive. “Such a recognizable and beloved structure, that was the star in raising the funds.”  Although there are numerous generous supporters, the four major sponsors of the project include: $250,000 from Northwell Health, a $390,000 grant from the Robert D.L. Gardiner Foundation and $438,000 from NYS Economic Development and Preservation Fund, and $150,000 from Sarah and Maurice Iudicone.

Recently, the Montauk Historical Society gave a cocktail party, hosted by Gurney’s Star Island, to launch a Public Capital Campaign for the Montauk Point Lighthouse restoration. The party celebrated important donors who, together, have contributed over $1.5 million towards repairing the tower. Due to the efforts of Nick and his committee, they have almost met their fundraising goals. In addition to the expenses of the tower renovation, they are expanding the campaign for other critical repair, also to original specifications, for the buildings around the tower.

In addition to the renovations, they are developing a comprehensive maintenance plan for going forward. It will enable future boards to follow and use the techniques/ maintenance plan needed for the upkeep of this Historical National Landmark.

The August Marshall Tucker Band Concert produced by the Montauk Music Festival, will provide additional funds for the campaign, and allow viewers to see the progress made on the tower; about two-thirds of the way through. For information about the concert, go to .

For more information on donating to the Montauk renovation project, email