Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan joined Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Commissioner Ed Lambert on February 24, 2013, to announce that DCR has renewed its long-time partnership with the Westport Fishermen’s Association (WFA) to manage the Horseneck Beach Lifesaving Station—a 125-year-old lifeguard and emergency station.
Established through DCR’s Historic Curatorship Program, the WFA has been authorized for a 25-year lease. The longer lease will ensure the restoration and revitalization of this historic property.
In the fall of 2006, the WFA indentified the lifesaving station as a potential restoration project and approached DCR. Since 2007, the WFA has worked tirelessly to rehabilitate the historic property, reopening the facility to the public as a museum and visitor’s center. DCR leased the lifesaving station to the WFA in 2011, when State Senator Michael Rodrigues sponsored legislation to authorize the long-term lease.
preserve, protect, and improve the water quality of the Westport River, marshes, tributaries, and all surrounding waters.”
The new lease allows for an additional 25 years of dedication and preservation of the property for visitors. While most of the restoration work has been completed, the continuing cooperation between DCR and the WFA ensures a commitment to long-term maintenance and management—as well as the preservation of the building for generations to come.
Under an initial 5-year permit, the WFA performed major renovations to the lifesaving station and set up exhibits to detail the history of lifesaving at Horseneck Beach. The WFA has invested more than $200,000 in capital improvements since spearheading the restoration project in 2007.
The restoration efforts included 4 phases of work—each completed by general contractors who bid on their pieces of the project—the demolition of all additions, the stabilization the main building, the restoration of the station, and the renovation of the adjacent structure to create an inviting visitor’s center. Project funding came from grants, private donations and in-kind services.
Today, the WFA is able to offer public tours and rotating exhibits, as well as events such as fishing tournaments, beach cleanups, and road races, all dedicated to building awareness of the issues facing the local watershed, the Westport River, and the history of the lifesaving station.
The Westport Lifesaving Station was erected in Westport Point in 1888. George Manchester, former Captain of the whaler Kate Cory, was appointed first keeper at the age of 64. The station houses one lifeboat, the “Westport,” which was built by George Lawley and Son of Boston. DCR purchased the property in 1998 to add to the Horseneck Beach property and protect its history.
The WFA mission is to “preserve, protect, and improve the water quality of the Westport River, marshes, tributaries, and all surrounding waters.” Their continued work at the Horseneck Beach Lifesaving Station serves as a prime example of this commitment to a better natural environment for all to enjoy. The WFA was organized in 1983 and now has approximately 400 members.