Hunting Island Lighthouse is Beacon For State Park Tourists, History Buffs
For more than six decades, the Hunting Island Lighthouse warned ships away from the dangerous sandbars and reefs along the coast between Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia. Today, the historical lighthouse invites the public to climb its spiral cast-iron staircase for a birds’-eye view of this barrier island state park and surrounding waterways.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the lighthouse was constructed between 1883 and 1885 following the destruction of an earlier tower during the Civil War. In 1889, beach erosion forced the lighthouse to be relocated from its original location on the northern end of Hunting Island to its current site 1.3 miles inland.
The exterior of the lighthouse consists of curved, cast-iron panels weighing 1,200-pounds each that can be disassembled and moved if required. The panels are bolted together to form a shell, which is lined with brick, representing the primary load-bearing structural element. The only other lighthouse in the U.S. using this design is in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
This year, the lighthouse was given a facelift in preparation for the 150th anniversary of the original lighthouse that was destroyed. The restoration consisted of overcoating the lighthouse exterior with Tnemec’s Series 1028 Enduratone, a water-based, low volatile organic compound (VOC) High Dispersion Pure acrylic polymer coating. In addition to its excellent long-term protection, Enduratone can be applied over aged coatings, is mildew resistant and exhibits exceptionally good gloss and color stability.
“Given the historical significance of this lighthouse, people in charge of the project didn’t want to put just any paint on it,” according to Tnemec coating consultant Dan Anderson. “They wanted to make sure they got the very best coating that would provide compatibility with the existing coating and long life. The existing paint was an acrylic, so we couldn’t specify a solvent-based coating that could soften the acrylic and cause problems. We recommended an acrylic polymer for both its high performance and compatibility.”
The coating contractor was Dunlap Inc., of Greenville, South Carolina, which had given the lighthouse its last coat of paint 16-years earlier. “At that time, we were selected for the project because we were a SSPC-SP QP1 certified contractor,” recalled Steve Dunlap, president of Dunlap, Inc.
The exterior of the lighthouse was power-washed using a rotating turbo nozzle at 3,500 psi and rust spots were removed with power tools. Series 135 Chembuild, a modified polyamidoamine epoxy, was roller-applied as a spot primer, followed by a spray-applied topcoat of Enduratone, which has “dry-fall” characteristics that reduce the potential for overspray problems on surrounding property.
“The cast metal on the lighthouse is very old, so we had to be careful where we attached the rigging we used,” Dunlap acknowledged. “We actually took some windows out to attach rigging to the interior.”
The project required 35 gallons of primer and 100 gallons of topcoat, which Tnemec donated. “We wanted to help out with the project because it’s such a historic structure,” Anderson explained. “We also were on-site and worked with the contractor to answer any questions they had. The project went very well.”
After more than three weeks of work, the lighthouse was ready for its 150th anniversary celebration this month. For their efforts on behalf of the renovation, Tnemec and Dunlap Inc. are recognized on the Friends of Hunting Island Web site.