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Local Notables: Anna Berkheiser and Patrick Landewe 

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Once a protector of Hudson River passengers, the old Saugerties Lighthouse (est. 1869) now needs protection of its own. Thankfully, resident caretakers Patrick Landewe and Anna Berkheiser meticulously maintain this historic structure. Together, the pair—who are partners in life and in business—keep up with both simple fixes (a little paint here, some cleanup there) and major repairs. “A house in general takes regular maintenance, but when you’re living in the middle of a river, the weather takes more of a toll—wind and rain are always heavier,” says Berkheiser. “We’ve now installed our own weather station to track our unique weather patterns, and that should better prepare us, but there is always work to do.”

Although she’s a North Carolina native, Berkheiser moved to the Valley after studying art and document restoration in London. She fell in love with the area, and has been here for almost two decades. “Patrick’s been at the lighthouse for about seven years, and I’ve been a resident a few years less,” she explains. Landewe, 41, has a background in sailing but became interested in sustainable living. “He’s from Missouri by way of Puget Sound, where he was working on an environmental-education vessel, much like the sloop Clearwater here. When he heard about the Clearwater organization’s plans and goals, he wanted to be a part of it and moved out here. When the lighthouse opportunity came up, it was really a matter of being in the right place at the right time—there was an opening at the lighthouse, he applied, and was accepted, given his professional background. And with my background in historical restoration, it was a great blend.”

Since the building is also a bed-and-breakfast, a typical day depends on whether there are visitors to tend to. “When there are guests here, we’ll wake up early and make a big farm breakfast, locally sourced and as in-season as possible to support our local farms,” she says. “Then there’s cleaning, welcoming new guests, giving tours of the interior, and eventually it’s on to fixing the building and trails, including the peninsula we’re on—which, by the way, was created during a late-1800s dredging project and now grows diverse plant life from seeds that traveled downriver and settled here, including water chestnut, invasive purple loosestrife, and the Canada lily. And finally, off to bed early enough to repeat it all again the next day.”

Although living in a lighthouse can be even less glamorous than it sounds, the pair feel good about their minimal-impact, sustainable lifestyle. Each room is like a mini museum, complete with period furniture, but the historical context goes way beyond decor. “We use a great 1920s stove, a 1930s fridge, and the original electrical system put in place in the 1940s—when the fridge goes on, all the lights flicker,” she laughs. “But, since we only use rainwater for drinking and washing, we need to travel into town for laundry and we use a compost toilet, saving water. There is no garbage pickup so all trash and recycling has to be brought all the way out. It’s not always easy, but it really helps us remember to be mindful of our waste and remember that we’re just visitors here. Again, there’s always work to do.”

Saugertieslighthouse.com

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