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Gualala Arts

Promoting public interest and participation in the arts since 1961.

Archive of past events: 2004 through 2014

Gualala Arts Lecture Series presents:
Point Arena Lighthouse
Preserving a Historical Treasure

with Jim Platt
Monday, April 5, 2010, 7:00 p.m.
Admission is $5

Point Arena Lighthouse On a rugged Point Arena promontory just north of town stands the Point Arena lighthouse, first constructed in 1870 and extensively renovated in 2009. Jim Platt, President of the Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers Board, and Executive Director Rae Radtkey will retell the rich history, recount how the restoration was accomplished, and outline future plans for this local treasure in a lecture at Gualala Arts Center on April 5, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.

The original brick and mortar tower featured ornate iron balcony supports and a large keeper residence with enough space to house the four keepers and their families. In April of 1906, the devastating Great Quake struck the tower. The quake occurred along the San Andreas Fault, which parallels the coastline 3½ miles from Point Arena. Shock waves raced across the landscape to the Light Station, damaging the lighthouse and keepers quarters beyond repair.

The current tower was a new concept in lighthouse construction. It began operation in September of 1908, truly a fast track for any government project in any era. It was the first to use iron reinforcement rods in concrete. At 115 feet, it is the tallest in California. The smokestack-like silhouette (single diameter bottom to top) makes it unique.

Point Arena Lighthouse: Fresnel lens Point Arena Lighthouse lens The lecture will recount the marvelous pieces of engineering required to install the first order Fresnel lens. The largest type commercially available, it and its drive mechanism weighed close to 5½ tons. In 1977-78 the US Coast Guard silenced the fog signal and shut down the historic Fresnel lens. Today, the lighthouse continues its vital role using an automated beacon.

While the USCG retains ownership of the historic lens and maintains the automated beacon, the private non-profit Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers, Inc. (PALKI), founded in 1982, owns and keeps up the property including the 23 coastal acres it encompasses, its 115 ft. Lighthouse Tower and its 1896 Fog Signal Building - a challenge in this economic climate.

A major achievement of the Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers has been a $1.6 million renovation. Through a series of California Cultural Historic Endowment grants, they have successfully renovated the historic fog signal building and relocated the historic Fresnel lens and its drive system from the tower to the fog signal building. The lecture will discuss the considerations, challenges and complexities of this project and plans for the future.

Today the Light Station provides vacation rentals, museum tours and tower tours that feature a 145-step ascent of the spiral staircase to the tower top, with its panoramic views of the Pacific coastline and the bucolic countryside.

Learn about this intriguing piece of local history and about the volunteers dedicated to preserving it for our enjoyment and that of future generations. A $5 admission will be collected at the door.

The Gualala Arts Center, located at 46501 Old State Highway in Gualala, CA,
is open weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and weekends from noon to 4:00 p.m.
Please call (707) 884-1138 for more information, or email

Serving the coastal communities of northern Sonoma & southern Mendocino Counties.