Salem, MA — The lighthouses that line our coastlines sit, reliable sentinels, their lifesaving mission occasionally broadcast by the call of the foghorn and the sweep of the light beam. Striking in their height and might, we cherish them for their stark brilliance against a blue sky. Beyond their hue and cry in nor’easters, what do we know of these giants more often viewed in quiet repose?
Eric Jay Dolin, a Marblehead resident and author of a number of several critically acclaimed histories, has just published “Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American Lighthouse.” He comes to The House of the Seven Gables to present an informative and fascinating slideshow about lighthouses, their maritime mission, their keepers, and the dramatic effects of weather, war, and the wear and tear of time.
Dolin’s presentation is part of the Seven Lectures at Seven Gables series. Dolin’s lecture begins on Wednesday, May 25, at 6 p.m. in the Visitor Center at 115 Derby St., Salem, Mass. Refreshments will be served and parking is available. A book signing for “Brilliant Beacons” will follow the talk. Members are admitted free of charge. There’s a $7 charge for nonmembers. Those interested in reservations may email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 978-744-0991, ext. 104.
The House of the Seven Gables has its own part in this country’s remarkable maritime history. Built by the prosperous Salem sea captain John Turner in 1668, it has faced the sea for four centuries. Nathaniel Hawthorne made reference to the impressive structure in his 1851 novel, “The House of the Seven Gables.” Later, Salem philanthropist Caroline Emmerton purchased the property, then known as the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, restored and renamed it The House of the Seven Gables after the novel. She opened it up for tours that aid, to this day, in the education and support of Salem’s immigrant population.
Right down the road from The Gables sits a stunning example of an American lighthouse, one of scores of such structures that have helped ships avoid perilous rocky coasts. Lighthouses save lives and they have contributed to the nation’s growth and prosperity. Dolin, also author of the acclaimed book, “Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America,” will share edge-of-your-seat stories of nasty political battles, technological innovation, natural disasters and war. Some of his best stories are about the men and women who keep the lighthouses functioning, often the help of their families.
Dolin’s book, “Leviathan: The History of Whaling In America,” was chosen as one of the best nonfiction books of 2007 by The Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe. The book also won the 2007 John Lyman Award for U.S. Maritime History. His book, “Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America,” was chosen by The Seattle Times as one of the best nonfiction books of 2010, and also won the New England Historical Association’s James P. Hanlan Book Award. Dolin is also the author of “When America First Met China: An Exotic History of Tea, Drugs, and Money in the Age of Sail,” which was chosen by Kirkus Review as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of 2012. A graduate of Brown, Yale and MIT, where he received his Ph.D. in environmental policy, Dolin lives in Marblehead, Mass., with his family. For more information, those interested may visit ericjaydolin.com.
About The House of the Seven Gable Settlement Association
The mission of the House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association is to preserve the National Historic Landmark and leverage its power as an icon of American culture to engage diverse audiences and provide education opportunities for the local immigrant community. For more information, please visit www.7gables.org.