OCEAN CITY – Old Glory fluttered in the breeze once again over the U.S. Life-Saving Station 30 as the American flag was hoisted above the historic property on June 14.
The 57-foot tall flagpole, an exact replica of the one at the station from around 1905 to 1915, was installed as part of the multi-year renovations.
John Loeper, president of U.S. Life-Saving Station 30, a nonprofit established to renovate the building and operate it as a living history museum, hoisted the flag as part of an impromptu Flag Day observation.
“Today is Flag Day. We thought it was appropriate for raising the flag 104 years since it was raised on this property as a lifesaving station,” Loeper said.
Loeper obtained two historical replica flags: a 45-star flag which represents one used in 1905, and a red, white and blue pennant with a white star used to identify a life saving station.
“Anybody could have flown an American flag, but the pennant is a Life-Saving Service pennant,” Loeper said.
Specialty flag companies provided the pennant and the historic flag. For the pennant, Loeper scaled the design off a photograph and had a banner company make it for the station.
The flagpole, which resembles a mast of a sailing ship, towers high over the station grounds.
“The reason for the height is that boats off the coast would go from station to station. That’s where the rescue was, so they could always see a flag. When they left this flag they would see Longport’s flag and then Atlantic City,” Loeper said, adding the flags functioned as daytime navigational beacons. “The idea of going 57 feet is that then you get up 57 foot you get 6 foot on a schooner deck, you end up pushing the horizon out to about 21 miles. These guys were all coastal sailors. They didn’t go deep water. They worked their way up the coast.”
A small gathering of friends and history buffs attended the flag-raising.
Loeper said Life-Saving Station 30 is seeking volunteers to staff the station and conduct historic tours this summer.
“This is the first summer that we’ll be open, and we’d love to be able to staff it,” Loeper said.
Anyone interested in volunteering should call (609) 398-5553.
Loeper said once a list of volunteers is made, an orientation will be held at the station.
“Basically other than the technical stuff with the Life-Saving Service, the rest of it is 1905 house – kitchen, dining room, office,” Loeper said.
Life-Saving Station 30 produced four videos that play on a flatscreen television in the station’s dining room about the Life-Saving Service, including a day in the life of the station keeper, background of the lifesaving service, and lifesaving equipment.
“This station takes Ocean City’s history back another 10 years with the Life-Saving Service,” Loeper said.
Built in 1885 as a basic storage for rescue boats, the Ocean City Life-Saving Station expanded into a building with a wraparound porch, gabled roof, hardwood floors and cupola. It functioned as the U.S. Life-Saving Station 30 until 1915, quartering the surfmen who performed daring ship rescues at sea.
The building, located at 801 Fourth St., became U.S. Coast Guard Station #126 until 1936 and a private residence after that.
In 2010, the city purchased the historic station from the owners for $887,500 with the goal of restoring the structure to its heyday.
Renovations included elevating the building to a new foundation, rebuilding the cupola, installing a cedar-shingled roof, replacing plaster walls and ceilings, replacing damaged flooring, installing whole building ventilation, constructing an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant toilet room, an ADA ramp, boat ramps, four-panel wood doors, and interior light fixtures.
So far, the exterior and ground floor interiors have been completed and decorated as they were circa 1905. These renovations include a foyer, kitchen, keeper’s office, boathouse and dining room.
Exhibits on various rescue equipment including surfboats, a lifecar, and a beach cart occupy room in the station.
New acquisitions include a circa 1880s skiff from Plymouth, Mass. used for quick trips to the mainland, and a vintage music box with interchangeable metal discs from Leipzig, Germany. Resembling a record player, the music box is played via a hand crank. Loeper demonstrated by playing one disc, “Home Sweet Home,” and filled the dining room with tinkling, melodious music.