, Gloucester, MA

September 6, 2013

Lighting the way: Rockporter writes new book on Cape Ann lifesaving stations

By Times Staff
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — Paul St. Germain, the Thacher Island Association president, has written a 128-page book packed with maritime history and 200 vintage photographs. The book explains the history of six local lighthouses and three lifesaving stations on Cape Ann.

He will give an illustrated talk and sign his new book at the Cape Ann Museum on Saturday, Sept. 7, at 3 p.m. Proceeds from the sale of his book, “Lighthouses and Lifesaving Stations on Cape Ann,” will benefit the Thacher Island Association.

St. Germain, a Rockport resident, previously wrote “Twin Lights of Thacher Island, Cape Ann,” also published by Arcadia Publishing. He also authored the application that resulted in the -island’s designation in 2000 as a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service.

The Cape Ann Museum archive has been a great resource in St. Germain’s research on both books.

Demonstrating the need for lighthouses and lifesaving stations, St. Germain said the Navy did a survey in the mid-1800s, which revealed that more than 70,000 vessels passed by Thacher Island in a given year.

“The waters surrounding Cape Ann have supported vibrant fishing and shipping industries since the mid 17th century, and much of that success is owed to the light stations that illuminated the way. The book provides an overview of life in this maritime community and features stories of seafaring adventure and heroism,” according to a museum press release.

Illustrations in the book show the influences that the lighthouse and harbors had on famous artists such as Winslow Homer, Fitz Henry Lane and Edward Hopper. There are photographs of three Annisquam lighthouses from 1801, 1851 and 1897. Homer’s etching “The Life Line” is displayed in the museum.

St. Germain explained the lighthouses were erected in the areas of dangerous rocks and reefs, while the lifesaving stations were located near the lighthouses. The three lifesavings stations noted in the book were located on Davis Neck in Annisquam, Gap Head in Rockport and Dolliver’s Neck.

“These stations were all the way up to Plum Island and down to Cape Cod,” he said. “They were established because there were so many shipwrecks going on in places near the lighthouses, so they needed some place where shipwreck survivors could go.”

These stations had water, food and clothing in the huts, and eventually were manned with surf boats. The book tells tales of heroism and adventure, and highlights the dedication of the lighthouse keepers and lifesaving surfmen, according to the publisher. The book also provides an overview on life in Cape Ann, its fishing, granite, and ship building industries, as well as artistic history.

The Saturday, Sept. 7, 3 p.m. talk is at the Cape Ann Museum, 27 Pleasant St., Gloucester.

There is also a talk on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at the Rockport Public Library at 7:30 p.m. on behalf of the Sandy Bay Historical Society.

The book is available at area bookstores, or through Arcadia Publishing at 888-313-2665.

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3445, or



If you go Who and what: Paul St. Germain will give an illustrated talk and sign his new book, "Lighthouses and Lifesaving Stations on Cape Ann." Book proceeds benefit the Thacher Island Association When: Saturday, Sept. 7, at 3 p.m. Where: Cape Ann Museum, at 27 Pleasant St. in Gloucester. How much: Free with admission and for members.