At the mouth of the Piscataqua River in Kittery Point, Maine 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 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 unfortunate 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 place on behalf of the Town as a maritime museum. We are making outstanding progress. After six years of construction, and $4.7 million so far, the entire building has been cleaned of hazardous materials, the structural elements rebuilt, the exterior restored and both the north and south sea walls and the historic shed rebuilt. We have also built a new pier and restored the historic marine railway. A historically accurate rescue boat from the 1930s, The Mervin Roberts, was purchased in 2020 and is currently under restoration. It is an exciting time at Wood Island Station.
Please enjoy these various 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. 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.