City Island Nautical Museum works to save Eastchester Bay Lighthouse

The Stepping Stones Lighthouse is in Eastchester Bay between the SUNY Maritime and City Island.
Photo courtesy of the City Island Nautical Museum

The City Island Nautical Museum is joining the effort to save a lighthouse located off the shore of the east Bronx.

Generations of boaters from the Bronx have passed by the classic structure, known as the Stepping Stones Lighthouse, at the foot of Eastchester Bay and Long Island Sound.

Now the City Island Historical Society is assisting in a movement to restore the beacon, built in the 1870s, to its former glory.

The CINM will host a fundraiser at the museum building, located at 190 Fordham Street, on Sunday, March 1 at 2 p.m., raising seed money that will hopefully blossom into a full restoration.

The reception will include speakers, photographs and refreshments.

“A lot of people on City Island are very fond of (the lighthouse), and feel a sense of ‘ownership’ of sorts,” said Barbara Dolensek, CINM vice-president, adding the boaters pass it on their way up and down Eastchester Bay and fishermen love the spot for its excellent eel fishing.

The proceeds of any donations collected will go to a restoration fund specifically for the lighthouse, and museum officials say that the most urgent things needed are a new roof on the structure and a dock that would facilitate repair crews and materials.

Three groups on Long Island are coordinating the effort, after the Coast Guard turned over the site in 2008 to the town of North Hempstead, NY on the condition that they raise money for its restoration.

A full restoration of the lighthouse would cost about $6 million, said Dolensek.

The community on City Island has had a close relationship with the lighthouse, said Dolensek.

“There were people living on it for years – the lightkeeper and his family – and they basically rode every day to Ciy Island to send their kids to school and do their shopping,” she said. “So City Island has always felt that the lighthouse was part of our community, and people here are very fond of it.”

In a letter, Tom Nye, CINM museum president, stated that the lighthouse is significant because it guided recreational and commercial marine traffic from the Long Island Sound to New York City for generations.

Even today, he stated, the children at P.S. 175, City Island’s public school, have a special affinity for it.

The CINM is aiding the Great Neck Historical Society and the Great Nec Park District in their effort to restore the historical site.

Fully tax deductible donations can be sent to the Great Neck Historical Society, P.O. Box 234483, Great Neck, N.Y. 11023.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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