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From left, under the watchful eye of Scott Frye and the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, Gov. Maggie Hassan autographs a commemorative postcard for history buff Jim Hutt, of Sanford, Maine, during a ceremony to officially release a stamp featuring five New England lighthouses, including the long-standing one in New Castle Saturday. (JOHN QUINN PHOTO)

New Hampshire lighthouse part of new stamp series


NEW CASTLE — For centuries, the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse has guided mariners, but now it will serve as inspiration for all after being recognized on a new national stamp.

On Saturday, area residents joined Gov. Maggie Hassan, U.S. Coast Guardsmen and members of the U.S. Postal Service at the tip of Great Island to officially release a stamp featuring the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse.

Afterwards, Postmistress Sharon D'Urso and her staff were on hand to sell the new stamps and to apply the commemorative "First Day of Issue" cancellation to letters, postcards and collectable keepsakes.

Anyone who missed the ceremony can stop by the New Castle Post Office — located at 73 Main St. — to buy a new lighthouse stamp and receive a First Day of Issue cancellation mark, according to U.S. Postal Service Spokeswoman Maureen Marion.

"It will have to be sent back Monday," Marion said, adding the set of lighthouse stamps will be available across the nation.

Patty Lane Evans, of Seabrook, said the lighthouse stamps appeal to people who feel a connection to the sea.

"I have sailors in my family going back to the 1600s," Evans said, adding the Lane family in Gloucester, Mass., worked as sailors, sail makers and even as painters of seascapes.

"Salt water runs in my blood," Evans said.

Like many local residents, Michele Grenon — who lives within walking distance of the lighthouse — said she was very excited to hear about the new installment in the stamp series.

"We can see three lighthouses from our house so it seems like a neighborhood," Grenon said, adding her mother — Elizabeth Grenon, 80, who lives in Massachusetts — enjoys sitting on the porch watching the waves.

As a result, Grenon said she had to stop by and get stamps for her mother, who was disappointed that she was unable to attend the ceremony Saturday.

Barrington resident Joel Sherburne, who can trace his family's roots in America back to Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, said he was excited to see the lighthouse on a stamp. He added he purchased several post cards and stamps to send to people while keeping a few keepsakes for his own collection.

"It's really unique," Sherburne said.

Hassan said the stamp honors the long history of the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, which was first established in 1771. She added lighthouses symbolize and honor the values of perseverance, community and selfless service which are held dear by many.

"When we all look out for each other, we get stronger," Hassan said, adding the stamp honors the town, those who've watched over the harbor and those who continue to protect history.

The current lighthouse, which was built out of granite in 1903, was the third one constructed on the promontory near Fort Constitution, which shares the area with an active U.S. Coast Guard Station near 25 Wentworth Road in New Castle.

The lighthouse is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and maintained by the Friends of the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, a non-profit organization — part of the American Lighthouse Foundation — which also oversees Whaleback Lighthouse across the bay in Maine.

Jeremy D'Entremont, operational manager of the Friends of the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses and author of the "History of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse," said the stamp was a very special honor. He added lighthouses are such positive icons that represent faith and hope.

"They guide, they warn, they also symbolize our maritime history," D'Entremont said, adding the stamp also honors the men and women who dedicated their lives to keeping the lighthouses lit day after day.

The stamp will also raise public awareness of these historic lighthouses and aid efforts to care for them, according to Bob Trapani, executive director of the American Lighthouse Foundation — based in Rockland, Maine.

"Because of volunteers, the (Portsmouth Harbor) lighthouse looks every bit as good as the stamp," Trapani said.

John Cantwell, of the U.S. Postal Service, said the images of the New England Coastal Lighthouses are the latest installation of a series of stamps by artist Howard Koslow and art director Howard Paine which began in 1990.

"The American people have an unending fascination with lighthouses," Cantwell said, adding lighthouses from the Great Lakes, the Southeast, the Pacific and the Gulf Coast have been featured in the past.

"This is the first time the Postal Service is issuing five stamps from New England at the same time," Cantwell said.

The series also features the following lighthouses: Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth, Maine; Point Judith Lighthouse in Narragansett, R.I.; New London Harbor Lighthouse in New London, Conn.; and Boston Harbor Light in Boston, Mass.

Volunteers from Friends of the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses offer tours of the lighthouse on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. between Memorial Day and Columbus Day.

For more information, visit www.newenglandlighthousetours.com.

jquinn@newstote.com

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