Restoration work has been under way this fall atop the East Chop Light, the familiar beacon perched on Telegraph Hill that has guided mariners since 1878.

Work has been led by International Chimney, a company that specialized in lighthouse restoration. — Jeanna Shepard

Most of the work has focused on the brackets supporting the catwalk railing that rims the top of the lighthouse, adorned with a series of small cast iron lighthouses. Over time the brackets railing have found themselves in need of repairs.

Tyler Finkle, who is in charge of the restoration project, said he didn’t know how or when the small lighthouses were created, but said he has seen the decorative features on a handful of other New England lighthouses.

Mr. Finkle is the historic preservation division manager for the International Chimney Corporation and Commonwealth Dynamics Inc. Like many New England lighthouses, he said the East Chop light was built from a kit and has its own quirks that stray from the original plans and make them unique.

“There’s always something that didn’t get drawn that way locally,” Mr. Finkle said.

Headquartered in Buffalo, N.Y., International Chimney has plenty of experience with lighthouses and was responsible for relocating the Gay Head Light in 2015.

“We do about 10 lighthouse projects a year,” Mr. Finkle said. “Mostly our bread and butter is lighthouses.”

Mr. Finkle and his crew are nearing the finishing touches on the East Chop restoration project which has mainly focused on replacing the catwalk brackets one by one to restore the structural integrity. The lighthouse has been off limits to visitors since September 2019, when it was closed to fix leaks and corrosion. That is when the issues with the catwalk were discovered.

“They determined . . . that the brackets that actually hold up the lantern deck had cracked,” said Martha’s Vineyard Museum director of operations and business development Katy Fuller.

Historic beacon has guided mariners since 1878. — Jeanna Shepard

The museum manages the lighthouse.

While the lighthouse waited for its new brackets, the catwalk was held up by what Ms. Fuller likened to “a corset holding the tower together.”

The restoration project is expected to wrap up in the next few weeks, Ms. Fuller said, and the corset will be removed so the old lighthouse can breathe easy once again.

“Other than that the lighthouse is pretty much good to go for awhile,” Ms. Fuller said.

Mr. Finkle said the project has gone smoothly. “Everything came off and went back together,” he said. “Very few go that way, so that’s awesome.”

He added that while working on the lighthouse the crew noticed some of the windows were missing casting. He said the contractor offered to recast the windows, but that work appears to be still in the future. After all, keeping historic structures in good shape is never-ending work.

“These things are over 150 years, 180 years old,” Mr. Finkle said.

Before visitors can climb the old tower again, the town of Oak Bluffs will conduct a lead removal and remediation project in the soils around the lighthouse.

“We are hoping that will happen in the late winter, early spring,” Ms. Fuller said.

More pictures.