Lighthouses & Fort Trumbull Replica Builder Devoted to his Craft
Posted on July 23, 2014
Story & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com
Once a week Bob Landry stops by Fort Trumbull State Park in New London, Connecticut to check on the replicas he built of the fort, and lighthouses off the nearby shoreline. Landry took up the craft after retiring from his position as a carpenters’ general foreman with Electric Boat. Now, he devotes his time to building the replicas and hopes his efforts contribute to the preservation of the area’s rich maritime history.
“The Fort Trumbull replica took me 700 hours to build. See the spiral stairs inside the tower,” Landry said during a recent interview there, pointing to that intricate piece of workmanship.
His replicas are on loan to the state.
“I grew up near this area and lived here 37 years before moving to Salem,” he said, explaining his fascination with the lighthouses and local history.
His work has been debuted by the New London Maritime Society and written up in regional publications.
Most of the original lighthouses can be visited by the public via a boat tour that begins at City Pier in New London, he noted. At least one can actually be seen at a distance in the harbor through the window of the information center at the park where the replicas are located, making for an interesting backdrop.
Moving from replica to replica, Landry is able to easily rattle off the variety of materials he used in each one – from plywood and electrical wire to tongue depressors and popsicle sticks. And, the list goes on.
He also communicates through an extensive Facebook network with other artisans.
“This one is my favorite because of the unique design,” Landry said, speaking of the New London Ledge Lighthouse.
Adding to the intrigue of its unusual architecture, the New London Ledge Lighthouse is supposed to be haunted Landry said. The mysterious legend goes that the ghost of a past lighthouse keeper who jumped off the roof after learning his wife had taken off with the captain of the Block Island ferry, still roams the site.
According to a 2008 article posted on “Damned Connecticut” (www.damnedct.com), the innkeeper is thought to have been John Randolph. Alleged sightings of a ghostly bearded man deemed to be the ghost (nicknamed “Ernie”) of the “distraught” Randolph, as well as, other inexplicable occurrences, such as doors opening and closing on their own, have brought paranormal investigators to this lighthouse. “Damned Connecticut” further reports that in 1936, care of the lighthouse was turned over from keepers to the United States Coast Guard.
Another interesting replica shows a tunnel that was used by the keepers to make their way from their living quarters to the lighthouse during inclement weather.
To some extent, Landry’s replica building has become a family affair. His brother Bill took a photo of one of the actual lighthouses that is hung at the information center behind its replica and Landry’s grandsons, Spencer and Parker,created business cards for him.
Landry’s distinctive replicas are one more attraction for visitors to enjoy at Fort Trumbull.
Go to http://www.ct.gov for information about touring Fort Trumbull.