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Repairs are almost done at the Old Point Loma Lighthouse

The Old Point Loma Lighthouse has sat atop a high peak for 169 years, so it’s understandable that it needs some repair and renovation now and then. The iconic building is closed for repairs right now.

When the lighthouse opened, California had only been a state for five years. From 1855 until it was decommissioned in 1891, the lighthouse shone a bright light out onto the Pacific, warning ships away from the rocky shores of Point Loma.

“It was one of the first original eight lighthouses built on the west coast of the United States," said Park Ranger Amanda Gossard.


As the program manager for interpretation, education and volunteers at Cabrillo National Monument, it’s part of Gossard’s job to know a lot about this old lighthouse.

“It was looking pretty sad when the National Park Service decided to preserve it in 1913," Gossard said.

The lighthouse is in a challenging environment, at least when it comes to Southern California. So, maintenance and repairs are a fairly regular occurrence.

“We do everything from carpentry, masonry, plaster — so a lot of different trades," said Larry Waldrop, who leads a specialized crew from the National Park Service. “We’re currently working on the interior of the lighthouse."

They’ve removed paint from the walls surrounding the spiral staircase after finding that the kind of paint that was used had trapped moisture and was damaging the plaster.


“(We're) doing some patching, and then doing some repainting with a more traditional paint that’ll breathe better," Waldrop said.

A couple of months ago, another Park Service crew was here doing work around the windows.

“They would paint it to mimic white oak and just over time, (due to) UV degradation, especially in the windows, it had become brittle and was cracked and was peeling off," Waldrop explained. "So our crew came in and we redid all the faux graining on the interior."

Whether it’s the parlor, the kitchen or the two small bedrooms upstairs, this historic treasure demands a lot of upkeep.

The lighthouse should be open for visitors again next Wednesday but there is still some fairly major maintenance to come. A National Park Service crew is due back in late spring or early summer to paint the exterior of the old lighthouse with that vapor permeable paint.