Where the Piscataqua River in Kittery Point, ME meets the Atlantic Ocean, a graying old structure of unknown purpose and history was slowly crumbing on a small island. The Wood Island Life Saving Station has stood watch at the mouth of the river for 114 years. It housed men, brave “surfmen”, that were part of the US Life Saving Service (a forerunner of the US Coast Guard) who would wait with small rowing boats to go out to help mariners in distress in terrible conditions year round.
The owner of the 1908 Station, the Town of Kittery, tried to demolish the place a half dozen times after ignoring its basic maintenance for decades. Our 501 c 3 charity, the Wood Island Life Saving Station Association (WILSSA), formed in 2011 to oppose that demolition and offered to raise all of the funds and expertise to undertake a historically accurate restoration. We formed long term contracts to allow us to restore the Station on behalf of the Town as a maritime museum in 2016. We are making outstanding progress.
After seven years of construction, and $5.4 million so far, the entire building has been cleaned of hazardous materials, the structural elements rebuilt, the exterior and interior restored and both the north and south sea walls and the historic shed rebuilt. We have also built a new pier and restored the 200 foot long historic marine railway. A historically accurate rescue boat from the 1930s, The Mervin Roberts, was purchased in 2020 and completed its restoration in 2022. It was launched on September 30, 2022. It is an exciting time at Wood Island Station.
Please enjoy these various short videos that tell the story of those herculean tasks (including the Maine Army National Guard) and share them with friends. We look forward to the upcoming challenges of completing the entire restoration and opening the building to the public as a maritime museum, hopefully in 2023. We work for good in our community – and with your help, a historic building of national importance will be saved and enjoyed by the public for generations to come.
Any questions please hit contact button above.