In 1822 the U.S. Congress agreed to give about $3000 dollars to build a lighthouse on Maine's Monhegan Island as well as a keeper's dwelling. The beautiful lighthouse was built with a light 170 feet above the high tide line. It had ten lamps with 16-inch reflectors, a Welsbach mantel fired by sperm oil, and a weight-powered rotary mechanism. It was finished in 1824 and in 1850 was rebuilt to install a kerosene lamp with a second-order Fresnel lens was installed as well as an assistant keepers dwelling. The beautiful lighthouse was maintained over the years in by the residents and the coast guard until in 1959 the light house was automated. With the keeper and assistant keeper's dwellings now empty the Island of Monhegan decided to turn the dwellings to a tribute to the island itself. They renovated the dwellings and built the Monhegan Museum of Art and History.
Part of their collection include James Fitzgerald paintings. This Massachusetts artist was known for his paintings for horses as well as his Monhegan landscape paintings he did as a resident of the island. James Fitzgerald was not alone however in his love of the island. Since it was first inhabited artists have come to be inspired by the beautiful landscape. Artists like Abraham J. Bogdanove, Ruth Boynton, Alfred Thompson Bricher, J. Frank Copeland, Randall Vermon Davey, Ted Davis, Joseph De Martini, Lynne Mapp Drexler, Emil Eugine Holzhaur, Sears Gallagher, and many more have been inspired by Monhegan Island and the surrounding area. These works reside in the home for all to see as well as occasional rotating exhibits.
For those wanting to see these exhibits and learn about the history of Monhegan the Museum is open seasonally from June 24th to September 30th. Their June and September hours are from 1:30 pm- 3:30 pm and their July and August Hours are from 11:30-3:30. The island is small with limited residents so be sure to check their website to see if the hours change. Whatever the visit, the Monhegan Museum is a must visit to truly get a sense of the Island's rich history.