Digest>Archives> July 2004

DON PERKINS—MODEL MAKER EXTRAORDINAIRE HELPS THE LIGHTHOUSE KIDS

By Jeremy D'Entremont

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Don and Louise Perkins with Sue Reynolds (right) ...
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If you’re a longtime reader of Lighthouse Digest, you’ve seen several past articles about the extraordinary lighthouse replicas created by Don Perkins of Pocasset, Massachusetts. Don, originally from Plymouth, MA, and raised in Providence, RI, has built over 30 models and has donated most of them to nonprofit groups, making no money for himself. His latest donation is a replica of the Isles of Shoals (White Island) Light Station off the New Hampshire coast, presented to the Lighthouse Kids chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation this past April 23. Like all of Don’s models, this one is beautifully detailed from the working light to a keeper and his dog standing by the door of the dwelling.

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The Lighthouse Kids and North Hampton School ...
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Sue Reynolds, the North Hampton School science teacher who started the Lighthouse Kids project, says that the model will remain on display in the school’s library for a year and will then be auctioned to raise funds for the restoration of its full-sized counterpart, which has been called the most endangered lighthouse in New England.

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Don Perkins is a retired oil burner technician and self-employed handyman. His wife Louise explains that several years ago, she and Don gave a ceramic lighthouse to a friend. Louise casually remarked that Don could probably make them himself. Before long, he had completed two models of Cape Cod’s Nauset Light, donating one and giving one to a daughter as a gift.

This was quickly followed by replicas of Scituate Light (four of them), Race Point, Boston Light, Graves, Edgartown, Spring Point Ledge, Cleveland Ledge, Cape Neddick “Nubble,” Boon Island, Nobska, Minot’s Ledge (the “I Love You” light was a gift to Louise), Clark’s Point, Plymouth (Gurnet), Avery Point, Little River, Rockland Breakwater, France’s La Jument, Butler Flats, Lorain Breakwater, Gay Head (another gift to a daughter), Cape Hatteras (still waiting for a home), Dutch Island, Bird Island, Peggy’s Cove, and Highland Light on Cape Cod. He’s currently working on Middle Island Light, Michigan, to be donated this fall. Don’s large and detailed models are on display in many locations, including the American Lighthouse Foundation’s Museum of Lighthouse History in Wells, Maine.

Don says he learns more with each model he makes and that he hopes to be creating them for many years to come. Louise says Don “counts people like Bill Collette, Doug Bingham and Tim Harrison (all of the American Lighthouse Foundation) his first friends in the lighthouse community. He has made so many more and appreciates their help.”

Don and Louise drove from their Cape Cod home to the New Hampshire seacoast for the presentation to the Lighthouse Kids. The event also included a performance by the North Hampton School Jazz Band.

Sue Reynolds started the Lighthouse Kids as a seventh grade community service project during the 2000-2001 school year, and each year new seventh graders have gotten involved. They’ve raised local awareness about the 1859 lighthouse, which is endangered by widespread cracks in its brick exterior. They’ve also raised about $38,000 and secured a matching grant from the federal Save America’s Treasures program. Don Perkins’ model shows the lighthouse looking pristine, and Jocelyn Briggs of the Lighthouse Kids commented that it was nice to see “what the lighthouse will look like when we get enough money.”

Don and Louise Perkins will soon be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary with a big family reunion. They have three daughters, seven grandchildren, and two great grandchildren, and thousands of appreciative people in the lighthouse community are part of their extended circle of friends.

For more on the Lighthouse Kids, visit their website at www.lighthousekids.com

This story appeared in the July 2004 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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