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Chapter 7

 

Albright’s Light

A Lighthouse’s Saga

 

 

 

 

As with all famous structures this light has a long and well-documented history. Here is its story:

It was originally erected and named the Ericson light in 1798. This light served to mark the entrance to the Ericson River, Maine. The light was deemed necessary due to the increased vessel traffic up the Ericson River for the transporting of the highly sought after "Hickory switches" so highly prized during this period of history. The keeper’s cottage was a modest 4- room dwelling without the convenience of electricity or running water. There was a cistern built under the house and rainwater was diverted from the roof of the dwelling to the cistern by gutters and downspouts for the use of the occupants. At that time the base of the light served as a storage area for the whale oil, used to fuel the lamps in the light, as well as the foodstuffs and supplies for the keeper and his family. The original keeper name was James Earl Wickie. James and his wife Jasmine kept the light lit until 1847 when the Erickson River dried up and Hickory switches were replaced by the board of education as the preferred child guidance device.

The light sat idle until 1887. Early that year Capt. Sven Albright was doing a survey of lights along the coast of Maine for the Lighthouse board. While trying to determine whether the roof of the keeper's house was slate or shingle he piloted his vessel, the sloop JohnE, too close to shore. He was unfamiliar with these waters and only had charts for the area around Nassau, where they normally roamed. The sloop was caught in the surf and pounded into oblivion by the ocean waves and the jagged rocks. All hands were lost, including his grandfather and the captain himself.   Capt. Albright was survived by his bride, Lolla Albright, and their son Ole. Ole later married Lena and they had a daughter Beatrice who you know as B. Albright (Granny).  It was later determined that the roof was indeed shingle.

After the fateful shipwreck of Capt. Sven's  sloop JohnE, the Ericson light was renamed the Albright Light. The lamps were relit and the keeper's house underwent some remodeling. In 1889 the enclosed front porch was added, as well as the dormer and attached workshop. The cistern was still in use for gathering water for household chores and bathing. A well had been dug but it was a fair hike out past the garden. Electricity was still not available. Jack Elder Barry and his wife June assumed the light keeper's duties that same year. They happily tended the light until 1938. They had performed their duties well and retired from the service of the light with high honors.

1938 was the year that electricity finally found it's way to the Albright light. The keeper's house once again underwent some remodeling. The house was electrified and the kitchen addition was added. The light was also converted to electricity and life was good at the Albright light. Retired vice admiral Jake Edward Maltsby, and his wife Jannie, assumed the duties at the light and served it well until it was decommissioned in 1950. In 1953 the constant pounding of the surf had eroded the beach away and the light was in danger of falling over the cliff. In April the worst happened. During a freak spring storm the light tower plunged down the 70-foot cliff to its ruin.

The light, deemed unnecessary, was never rebuilt. The keeper’s house was still intact and not in danger of following the light and it was closed and "mothballed.”  Left vacant and forgotten it continued to stand until in March of 2000, over 200 years later, it was purchased by JohnE and Jan from real estate mogul Mott Miniature for the sum of $59.00.  JohnE purchased the house as a tribute to the bravery of Capt. Sven. He is currently, with the help of a bunch of Ocelots bringing the house back to its modest splendor where his Granny will live out the remainder of her years.

Although not on the national register of historic places, the house will, as much as possible, look very much as it did in 1938 when it went through its last remodel.  The exterior color will remain the traditional white with dark green trim with gray painted foundation. The interior will lose its stark white appearance in favor of a more comfortable and updated feel. Granny has been quite vocal concerning the project stating, "I don't want to live in no chrome and glass mess.  Make it nice and cozy, JohnE, or I'll come and live with you.”  Needless to say nice and cozy is what we shall be trying to achieve.

So, there you have it.  The story of the Albright light.  Who knows, maybe, someday, the light tower will even be rebuilt! One never knows, does one?

 

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Last revised: April 2001