The image of a Maine landmark will be showing up in households and businesses across the United States this summer.
Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth has been selected to appear in an upcoming Forever postage stamp series called New England Coastal Lighthouses.
Four other lighthouses – Portsmouth Harbor Light in New Castle, N.H., Point Judith Lightouse in Rhode Island, New London Harbor in Connecticut and Boston Harbor Light – will be featured in the series.
Howard Koslow, an artist based in Toms River, N.J., was commissioned by the Postal Service to develop an acrylic painting of each lighthouse.
Koslow has produced art for the entire Postal Service lighthouse series, which began in 1990 and most recently featured Gulf Coast lighthouse stamps, in 2009.
The stamp with Portland Head Light, showing the sun rising over the lighthouse, will be issued July 13. A stamp dedication ceremony will be held at each lighthouse.
“This affirms what we already know, that Portland Head Light is one of the most iconic lighthouses in America,” said Earle Shettleworth, director of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.
Portland Head Light, in Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. It is owned and managed by the town.
Established in 1791, it is Maine’s oldest lighthouse.
According to the town’s website, more than a million people visit the park each year.
Tim Harrison, who wrote a book about Portland Head Light in 2006, said it is one of the most, if not the most, photographed lighthouses in America.
“No matter where you stand at Portland Head Light, you will never get a bad picture,” said Harrison, who is editor and publisher of Lighthouse Digest Magazine.
Harrison said this isn’t the first time that Portland Head Light has appeared on a postage stamp, but this new stamp series could elevate its status.
Harrison said Portland Head Light appeared on a 37-cent commemorative stamp — part of a series recognizing all 50 states – that was printed in 2003.
The lighthouse also appeared in a 1981 flag stamp series, called Sea to Shining Sea.
“Every time I talk to someone about Portland Head Light, I say it is the granddaddy of all the lighthouses,” Harrison said. “It’s about time that it was recognized.”
Jeanne Gross of Cape Elizabeth, director of the Museum at Portland Head Light, said the stamp is a great way to recognize such a beloved landmark.
Gross said the museum will open for the season April 27 and remain open on weekends only until Memorial Day. The museum will be open from 10 to 4 p.m. daily from June 1 through Oct. 31.
Jenny Goguen of Wake Forest, N.C., came to Maine to visit her mother-in-law, who lives in South Portland. She went to see Portland Head Light, which overlooks the channel into Portland Harbor, for the first time on Thursday afternoon.
While she loved the lighthouse, she said the more distant views of Peaks Island, Ram Island Ledge Light and Fort Levett on Cushing Island were mesmerizing.
“I think it’s beautiful, a great piece of Maine,” Goguen said of Portland Head Light.
“Forget the Christmas stamps, I’m going to buy the Portland Head Light stamp,” said Merrie Goguen, who moved to South Portland two years ago from North Carolina.
Stephanie Ma, her mother, and her sister took photographs of each other with Portland Head Light as their backdrop.
“It’s a magnificent piece of history,” said Stephanie Ma, who lives in Dallas. “We’ve seen it before because it is one of the most photographed lighthouses in America. That’s what makes being here so special.”
“I’m stunned this (stamp) wasn’t done 50 years ago. It’s got to be the most iconic lighthouse on the East Coast,” said Stan Tupper, a law student from Portland.
Tupper, who visited the lighthouse with Barbara Loring, an art teacher at Portland High School, said they may get married at Portland Head Light later this year.
“Our state’s visibility and our persona will be well represented by this stamp,” Loring said.
Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: