The Harbor History Museum on Saturday will unveil a photography exhibit, “1987: A Day in the Life.” It will be on display at 4121 Harborview Drive through Jan. 4.
March 7, 1987 was a day to remember for the City of Gig Harbor. Amateur and professional photographers were invited to take pictures and capture a quintessential “day in the life” as a fundraiser for the construction of the lighthouse. The exhibit will include the photographs and other mementos that marked the event.
The lighthouse is now seen as an iconic symbol to boaters and visitors.
Many residents may not remember a time when the lighthouse didn’t exist.
John Holmaas, co-chairman of the Gig Harbor Lighthouse Association, grew up looking out over the lighthouse property in the 1980s.
“It was a sparse metal framework with orange plywood and a small, battery-operated light,” he said. “I thought Gig Harbor needed something better.”
Holmaas initiated talks with the U.S. Coast Guard and Gig Harbor City Council, and he promoted the photography opportunity and time-capsule sales to help make the proposal a reality.
It was estimated to cost $40,000 to build and install the lighthouse, and the sum included an accompanying sign that welcomed people to Gig Harbor. The lighthouse was intended to offer a sense of place for the Maritime Heritage City.
The Gig Harbor Lighthouse Association sponsored the one-day photography event in 1987 to raise funds for the lighthouse to be installed on the spit at the mouth of Gig Harbor Bay. The cost was $6.50 to enter, and it covered film processing.
Photographers had from midnight to 11:59 p.m. to take and enter as many photos as they liked. More than 1,300 photos were taken from 37 photographers.
A promotional slideshow was created and featured 300 photos that helped to immortalize the day.
“The exhibit will have a display of canvas and foam-core photography from the original slideshow and rotating view of other pictures from the slideshow,” said Linda McCowen, a committee member for the exhibit. “There will also be a film showing the barge delivery to the installation of the lighthouse.”
Although the association knows the list of names for the photographers, it is not sure which names were assigned numbers for the slides.
“We are hoping to have residents who participated come forward and identify their photographs,” McCowen said.
A framed historic timeline for the property of the spit written by Adele Holmaas Robinette and a prologue for the lighthouse, as recorded by John Holmaas, will be on display.
The lighthouse on the spit stands at 15 feet. It was built in 1988 with an open lantern room and a battery-operated light that flashes red in four-second intervals.
The dedication ceremony was held in April 1989 as part of the centennial and bicentennial U.S. Lighthouse Service.
“We will be installing an 8-foot replica of the lighthouse as it sits now on the spit,” McCowen said. “There will also be a historical timeline of other significant events in 1987, both nationally and locally.”
The city was given the title of the Maritime Heritage City, making 1987 a historic year in many ways.
This will be the first of many events that will highlight the anniversary of the lighthouse.
It will kick off the countdown to the opening of the time capsules, the other fundraising option available in 1987.
Time capsules made of PVC pipe in various sizes were sold to individuals, businesses and schools. People were encouraged to put in items, such as newspaper clippings, bottles of wine, photographs and predictions.
“On April 26, the time capsules will be delivered to Skansie Park for an Open Day party,” McCowen said.
The photography exhibit will offer new time capsules for the next round of history to be captured in sizes and prices that will range from $250 to $1,000. They will again be buried with personal mementos at the lighthouse, and they will be opened in another 25 years.
The committee also is planning a three-day event to complete a round of photographs for the “Then and Now” series as another way to keep a snapshot of history ready to be reviewed in the next quarter century.
The fees for time capsules and photography will help offset the cost of the commemorative parties, websites and exhibits.
The committee for the exhibit and activities includes some of the original participants, John and Carole Holmaas, Renee Crist, Mary Smith, and new members Gregg Lovorich and Guy Hoppen.
“We want to encourage residents to re-create the photographs they see online and send them into the museum to show the living, active history of ‘Then and Now,’ McCowen said.
“It’s gone by quickly,” Holmaas said. “The community has changed a lot in some ways. Other parts have stayed the same. It will be fun to compare then and now and get ready to do it again for the next generation.”
For more information, visit www.harborhistorymuseum.org.Lifestyles Coordinator Kim Eibel can be reached at 253-358-4152 or by email at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter, @gateway_kim.