CAPE PORPOISE – Martin Cain was the last person to cross the covered walkway connecting Goat Island Lighthouse to the light keeper’s house before a winter storm in 1978 washed it away.

“The ocean picked up the walkway, folded it like an accordion and we watched it wash off,” just after Cain crossed it and entered the kitchen, his wife, Kathy, said.

On Wednesday — 33 years later — the couple returned to the island for a dedication ceremony that marked the end of a $1 million renovation project, which included restoring the walkway.

“This is bringing history back and my hat goes off to everybody,” who worked on the project, said Martin Cain, who was the lighthouse keeper from 1975 to 1978.

Renovation work began this spring after five years of obtaining permits and fundraising by the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust. The lighthouse was built in 1833 to guide mariners into the narrow, sheltered Cape Porpoise Harbor. The trust has owned the island since 1998.

Today, Goat Island Lighthouse looks much as it did during the 1950s. In addition to the covered walkway, the bell tower and a fuel storage building were restored.


Trust Executive Director Tom Bradbury said the circa-1950s makeover was chosen because it best represents the island’s “peak of its time in history.” Renovators paid attention to detail, right down to the original bell that rang from the old bell tower.

“This is something incredible for this community,” Bradbury said.

Longtime lighthouse caretaker Scott Dombrowski has led the project along with trust member Mike Weston. Both are excited about the work that has been done.

“It’s going to be so unique to be able to go from the keepers’ quarters to the light,” Dombrowski said. “It’s like a walk back in time. It’s a pretty amazing space.”

Dombrowski said he hopes to collect more memories and photographs from past lighthouse keepers such as Cain to create a lighthouse museum inside the walkway.

Weston said preserving historic buildings and land is important to him. He grew up in Bangor and said many of the city’s beautiful, historic buildings have been torn down for various reasons.


“All that’s gone and now there’s a parking lot,” Weston said. “I want to make sure that doesn’t happen in Kennebunkport.”

Nearly 40 people were ferried to the island for Wednesday’s ceremony. Larry McKay, a member of the trust, was among them.

“It’s a great historic thing to be able to see how it was in the 1950s,” he said.

Many in attendance remarked at how different the island looks from the mainland with the walkway and bell tower in place.

Kathy Cain had not returned to the island since 1978 in the wake of that vicious storm. She was hesitant to return Wednesday, but after seeing all the restoration work, she said she’s glad she did.

“It’s nice to see it all put together,” she said.

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:


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