History of the Light Station

East Brother Light Station was built in 1873 as an aid to mariners in the San Pablo/San Francisco Bays. After many years as an automated station, and under threat of destruction and replacement with a light on a pole in the middle of the island, the facility was taken over by a non-profit 501 c3 California Corporation under license from the US Coast Guard.

Saving East Brother Light Station and making it accessible for the public to enjoy was a labor of love for many people. They, as well as the hundreds of others who also supported the project in smaller ways, can be justifiably proud of what their labors and donations have achieved.  Click here to learn how you can help.

This book was commissioned by the Board of Directors of East Brother Light Station, Inc., as a tribute to all who worked to make the project possible. But particularly, I would like to recognize the contributions of a few very special people: Lucretia Edwards and the women of the Contra Costa Shoreline Parks Committee who initially saved East Brother from destruction by successfully nominating it to the National Register of Historic Places; Commander Joseph Blackett and Wayne Wheeler of the Coast Guard who encouraged us and trusted us with government property; The Monday Morning Gang who continue to maintain and improve the island's facilities; and finally to Walter Fanning, engineer, carpenter, innkeeper, machinist, and skipper, who can do almost anything better than anyone I have ever known. His talents and dedication continue to be an inspiration to us all.

Thomas K. Butt
President, East Brother Light Station, Inc.

 

About the Innkeepers

 

Jillian Meeker and Che Rodgers 

 

 

 

 

Before returning to the Bay Area to become the keepers of East Brother Light Station, Che and Jillian had left their home on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula to travel to New Zealand where they spent a wonderful four months. They are both enthusiastic about history, art, science, and food, and are delighted to have found the perfect intersection of their interests at East Brother.

Che has nearly ten years’ experience on a variety of boats, from expedition cruise ships in Alaska to running a classic sailing yacht in the UK from Cornwall to the Outer Hebrides. He has spent many years learning the traditional arts of the sailor and understanding the historical context of these forgotten skills. He also has experience in fine dining and enjoys preparing high quality meals in a variety of styles. A background in marine biology has also come in handy in the marine environment, and Che will be happy to answer any questions about the marine and bird life of the area.

Jillian has spent the last three years as assistant innkeeper at a Victorian bed and breakfast in the historic seaport of Port Townsend, WA. Before that, she worked as a cinema projectionist, spanning the transition from film to digital, and she has many years of experience in technical theater. Jillian is an experienced cook and baker, and loves experimenting in the kitchen.

Both Che and Jillian enjoy playing music, and are happy to share tunes with guests (ask Che about his 1896 banjo)! They are honored to have the opportunity to live and work on East Brother, and are excited to share their love of the island and its history with guests.

East Brother is an island in San Francisco Bay that is the home of an intact 1874 lighthouse and fog signal. The lighthouse is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard but maintained for public use by the non-profit corporation.

Volunteering

East Brother Light Station was built in 1873 as an aid to mariners in the San Pablo / San Francisco Bays. After many years as an automated station, and under threat of destruction and replacement with a light on a pole in the middle of the island, the facility was taken over by a non-profit 501 c3 California Corporation under license from the US Coast Guard.

Lighthouses Are Expensive To Run

There’s a reason why governments were typically the ones who erected and maintained them, they’re the only ones who could afford the upkeep! Not having any governmental resources, in order to raise money for preservation and maintenance, we operate a Dinner, Bed & Breakfast Inn on the island in the old lighthouse building four nights a week.

Maintaining A Lighthouse Is A Never-ending Task

kristen-on-wickie-dayThe keepers of old were nicknamed “Wickies” because of all of the time they spent trimming the wicks of the oil lamp so to keep the light burning strong and bright. While the old oil lamps are now history, the work of the lighthouse remains constant. Unfortunately, the proceeds from the operation of the Inn are not enough to do the whole job of preservation and restoration.  As much of the maintenance of the facilities as possible is done by the volunteer group, the Wickies.  There is need for all sorts of volunteers amongst the East Brother Light Station “Wickies” of today.

We have needs in every area, and donations of nearly all kinds can be useful. We especially need skilled people in diesel mechanics, construction, electricians, plumbers and donations of parts and equipment.  Tasks include painting, gardening, carpentry, inventorying; whatever your skills or energy level, there’s a place for you.

How To Volunteer

 

To become an EBLS Wickie, begin by registering on the web site so you’ll receive the monthly invite to the work party.

Workdays are usually the second Saturday of the month, weather permitting. Each month, an “e-Vite” is sent out to all of the registered Wickies via e-mail.  We have a limited number of available spaces on the workdays, so if you are able to join us, respond to the eVite as quickly as you can.  When you respond, you’ll be able to see whether or not you’re on the confirmed list or on a waiting status.  (If you’re on the confirmed list, and discover later that you can’t make it, please go back to the eVite to change your status so that someone else can take that place.

Workdays begin at 0900 with the short boat ride to the Island. We come back ashore by 4:00 PM the same afternoon.

For more information, please contact our volunteer manager at e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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East Brother Light Station

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East Brother Lighthouse Station History Book

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In The News

“You can sit and watch big ships and little seals cruise by, or gaze at the reposing birds or the rushing tide below the dock. There’s a sense of intimacy here and a feeling of remoteness, even though it’s just a short distance to the mainland.”

- Doug McConnell, Bay Area Backroads