All photos/art by Annie Card
Ten years ago, James Hyland, president and founder of the Lighthouse Preservation Society, decided to serve up something a little different to aid his fundraising work. Since its founding in 1984, his Dover, New Hampshire-based nonprofit has helped save and restore some 160 lighthouses across the country.
In 1999, Hyland set his sights on Rear Range Light in Newburyport, Massachusetts, a then-126-year-old lighthouse marking the mouth of the Merrimack River. A local developer owned it at the time. “He started telling me how he loved having lunch up in the lens room,” Hyland remembers. “I said, ‘That sounds great–why don’t you let me run with it?'” He agreed, and lighthouse dining was born.
Here, a climb up 55 steps and a 6-foot ladder brings you to the glass-paneled room that serves as the dining location–and feels like the top of the world. There’s the ocean, of course, and the postcard-perfect summer scenes of sailboats and fishing vessels, but the view also includes a sweeping look at this historic town–narrow streets and uneven rooftops included.
Then there’s the cuisine. Diners get to choose their meals ahead of time, selecting one of five local restaurants, whose menus range from the expected standards (water views, you know, equal seafood) to more unusual Argentine, Italian, and American fare, all delivered by a welcoming (and slightly winded) server. Just don’t expect the dollar menu. The final cost, which may run as much as $450 per couple, includes a $350 donation to the Society–which means you’re supporting history, and maybe, just maybe, the creation of other lighthouse meals for diners who’ve never seen such views.
Read more: Dining review by Annie B. Copps
Rear Range Light
61-1/2 Water St., Newburyport, MA