SIC Lighthouse
Sea Isle City may have found a temporary place to store the former city lighthouse to save it from a wrecking ball, at least for a few months.

SEA ISLE CITY - The former Ludlam Beach Lighthouse had seemed destined for an obscure demolition in a town that said goodbye to it in 1924.

Few would know the unassuming summer rental on Landis Avenue was built by the federal government almost 125 years ago.

But now the old wooden building may have found a temporary home to save it from demolition.

City Administrator George Savastano notified a nonprofit lighthouse preservation group that the city will offer a spot for the lighthouse in a remote northern-end area that was once a landfill.

Because the owner wants to build three units on the building's current site, The Friends of the Ludlam Beach Lighthouse has a looming deadline.

"I think we're going to have to move it by the end of the year," said Bob Uhrmann, who started the effort four years ago with the Friends of the Ludlam Beach Lighthouse.

Charles Adams, who has owned the house on 3412 Landis Ave. for more than 15 years, has said for several years he will donate the building, but his timeline is concurrent with his getting zoning approvals to rebuild.

He had postponed a Zoning Board hearing set for this month and is scheduled to appear on Dec. 7, according to the city's zoning office.

The privately owned building was stripped of its Fresnel lens decades ago and no longer resembles a lighthouse.

Progress on the ambitious long-term project has been slow.

The nonprofit group will have to pay to move the building to Fifth Street, but city officials have indicated a restored lighthouse could be in the plans for an ongoing downtown revitalization project along John F. Kennedy Boulevard.

City Councilman John Divney said the city may partner with the lighthouse group to fund renovations down the line.

"We're looking to restore the outside historically to the way it appeared when it was a light in service," Uhrmann said. "We're talking about using the inside for tourist information, maybe beach tags, and a combination museum."

The federal government built the Ludlam Beach Lighthouse in 1885 at the urging of city founder Charles K. Landis.

Storms battered it during the next 40 years, and a fire started from a kerosene lamp damaged it in 1923.

The revolving oil lamp was replaced with a 40-foot-tall steel tower with an automatically flashing gas light.

In a 1924 article about a pending auction of the building, a local newspaper recognized it as one of the oldest buildings on the island but believed it would be dismantled and sold for parts.

Instead, the former lighthouse was converted into a residence and has been moved twice.

Several years ago, Uhrmann and others got behind saving the forgotten lighthouse.

The group in Sea Isle City has used the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse in North Wildwood as an example of how an old lighthouse can be restored.

The Hereford Inlet Lighthouse had been abandoned, and interested residents reclaimed the property, where restorations have been ongoing for more than a decade.

The Ludlam Beach Lighthouse will be a bonus stop on this weekend's New Jersey Lighthouse Challenge, which encourages maritime buffs to visit state lighthouses in a weekend.

E-mail Brian Ianieri:

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