Martha’s Vineyard lighthouse added to endangered historic places list

A Martha's Vineyard landmark, the Gay Head Lighthouse has been added to the list of most Endangered Historic Places. Credit: Getty Images
A Martha’s Vineyard landmark, the Gay Head Lighthouse has been added to the list of most Endangered Historic Places. Credit: Getty Images

A treasured piece of Martha’s Vineyard history has made its way onto the 2013 list of America’s Most Endangered Historic Places.

The Gay Head Lighthouse was honored with a ceremony Wednesday morning by the National Trust for Historic Preservation,  the Martha’s Vineyard Gazette reports.

“Gay Head Lighthouse represents an important part of Massachusetts coastal communities’ identity and the cultural and nautical history of the United States,” Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said in a statement.

But the lighthouse faces a unique threat: climate change erosion. Experts predict that the lighthouse, which currently sits 50 feet from the cliffs, must be moved in the next two years.

“It’s 50 feet from the edge of the cliff,” Beverly Wright, selectman for the town of Aquinnah, told The Today Show. “Experts are telling us it could topple into the ocean in a year and a half.”

The town is hoping a fundraising campaign can save the Vineyard landmark. They’re currently raising $3 million in the hopes of moving the lighthouse to another location where erosion doesn’t pose a threat. The campaign can be viewed at GayHeadLight.org.

The current structure has sat on the Gay Head Cliffs since 1856, when it replaced a wooden one built in 1799.

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