A quilt for a lighthouse

Raffle will help keep lighthouse and island in good condition

Posted: Monday, November 24, 2003

The quilt the Juneau Lighthouse Association is raffling this winter can't give an adequate picture of the wildlife, landscape and history that surround the Five Fingers Island Lighthouse 65 miles south of Juneau.

But raffling the quilt will help keep the island and the lighthouse in good condition, members of the association said.

The Capital City Quilters donated a quilt to the association in May. The quilting club plans to hold the drawing for the quilt at the Juneau Public Market on Sunday, Nov. 30.

In addition to the smaller quilts it donates to local organizations periodically through the year, the quilting club donates one quilt a year to a nonprofit for a raffle fund raiser, said Ruth Johnson, a member of the Capital City Quilters.

"We try to donate our quilts to organizations that really serve our whole community," said Johnson.

In years past the quilts have gone to the Glory Hole homeless shelter downtown and the AWARE domestic-violence shelter. Next year the guild will make a quilt for the Juneau Family Birth Center.

Many of the tickets are sold at downtown businesses such as Hearthside Books, Imagination Station and the Bear's Lair.

Money from the raffle will go to summer projects at the lighthouse, said Ed McIntosh, vice president of the lighthouse group. He works construction projects in Juneau in the winter and spends his summers working at the lighthouse.

"This next season it will be more working on the mechanical system - boilers, radiant heat, insulation - so we could man the lighthouse longer and not have to leave in the wintertime," McIntosh said.

He and volunteers also will work on generating solar and wind power.

The Juneau Lighthouse Association began leasing the Five Fingers lighthouse from the U.S. Coast Guard five years ago, said Jennifer Klein, president of the group's board of directors.

The Coast Guard is in the process of deeding the lighthouse to the association, she said.

The National Park Service's historic preservation fund recently awarded $200,000 to the organization for the lighthouse's upkeep, and the Rasmuson Foundation has indicated it may offer the club $50,000 to help with the site's maintenance, Klein said.

Both awards are matching grants, meaning the association will have to raise $250,000 to receive the grants, Klein said. It will do that with fund raisers such as the quilt raffle, the annual Red, White and Blue Cruise it holds on July 3 to watch the fireworks, and an Octoberfest celebration.

The club also will solicit private donations. Earlier this year, Don Harris, owner of the Red Dog Saloon, donated half the money the organization needed to buy a boat, said McIntosh.

The club plans to open a small maritime history museum in the lighthouse, which is a 2 1/2-hour boat ride from Juneau. The organization will lease the lighthouse to groups to hold meetings or parties, and make it available for students researching whales in the area, Klein said.

"The idea is to help cover some of the costs," she said. "We're not going to make a profit on this."

The building has four bedrooms, a full kitchen and a bathroom. Although plenty of work has been done on the building since the association took over, more remains to be done, McIntosh said.

"You could do everything that you could imagine, and by the time you get everything done it's such a harsh environment down there that you would just start over and do it again," he said.

• Christine Schmid can be reached at cschmid@juneauempire.com.

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