- Nicholas Racanelli Chairman of Restoration Committee
The Montauk Point Lighthouse, a structure built in 1796, will expand the scope of its tower restoration project thanks to an outpouring of donations and grants, which has exceeded initial fundraising goals. Initial estimates for the tower restoration project, which began in 2019 following engineering and structural reports indicating that extreme weather conditions had taken its toll, were at between $3 million and $5 million. Ultimately, Montauk Historical Society Board Members Nick Racanelli and Dave Webb, both construction experts, developed a three-phase project to repair damage to the structure and correct existing problems. Racanelli Construction Company is not involved in the restoration project, however, Nick Racanelli is serving as Chairman of the restoration committee and capital campaign.
According to Racanelli, “Once we analyzed the engineering and structural reports, we saw a clear way forward. It saves us a ton of money, while solving all the problems. But $1.3 million is still a huge capital expense. The lighthouse had never run a capital campaign before and had no idea what to expect. It didn’t help that COVID hit just as we were getting started, and everybody was nervous about the future.”
Support came from a $438,500 New York State grant written by Montauk Historical Society Board President Stephanie Krusa. Bridgehampton National Bank also came through with a $50,000 pledge as did many individual and donors. By this past spring, the organization was almost halfway to its $1.3 million goal and then three massive donations also came through. They included a lead corporate gift of $250,000 from Northwell Health, a lead personal pledge of $100,000 from Sarah and Maurice Iudicone and a $390,700 grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation.
The Montauk Lighthouse Society held a cocktail party at Gurney’s Star Island on July 14th to thank its generous benefactors; an event underwritten entirely by Steve Bello, eastern regional director of Northwell Health and Kathryn Curran, executive director of the R.D.L. Gardiner Foundation. At the event, Andrew Sabin, whose family foundation had already donated $10,000 to the restoration project, offered a challenge grant, saying he would match all donations made that evening to a total of $100,000. This was immediately accepted by Sarah and Maurice Iudicone, who added $50,000 to their initial pledge, Karen Legotte Langdon, who wrote a check for $10,000, and several other generous attendees.
At that point, approximately $1.6 million had been raised, and another $300,000 would enable the exterior of the 1860 Keeper’s Residence, which house the museum, to be restored to how it looked when the Coast Guard operated it with white siding and a red roof.
A new fundraising goal has been set at $1.860 million to reflect the year 1860, when the Keeper’s Residence was built. For more information and to donate, visit: https://montauklighthouse.com/info/tower-restoration/