Former owner of Turner Campground tries her hand at maintaining lighthouses. . . in Guangzhou

October 10 – The Princess of Pleasant Pond in Turner left The Great Outdoors, perhaps too soon, but found herself on the water at an iconic island lighthouse on a Canton lake.

Mary Seaman grew up on little Pleasant Pond in Turner where she knew everyone, was a social butterfly and said she was treated like royalty. As a young girl, a self-proclaimed princess, she helped her parents turn a former 60-acre summer camp into a campground and event venue called “The Great Outdoors.”

Many years later, despite a full-time job as a teacher in Lewiston, she agreed to take over and run the business when her parents retired. She says she poured her heart and soul into this place and started to burn out and lose touch with her friends. Every day she worked as a liaison to support homeless youth at Lewiston High School, then came home and took care of the campground and event center, including most cleanup events, repair and work every weekend.

In 2019, she sold the campground and moved to a house on 27 acres in Hebron, but she still questions that decision to sell. “If I had known COVID was coming and I would have stopped teaching sooner, I don’t think I would have sold the place. But that ship has sailed and I can’t turn back the clock and the to do.”

With some regret, she started looking for ways to get back to the pond or to Popham Beach, where she’s been summering for a few weeks every year for some time now and has fallen in love with the area.

So far, she hasn’t found anything at either place that she really likes and is within her budget. She widened her search to other bodies of water and “returning to a place I can call home. I know I can never return to The Great Outdoors, but I hope to find something on the water that feels like home. . . . I track real estate in eight counties every day looking for something to get me back on the water, but nothing has caught my eye yet.”

In fact, something caught her eye – not exactly what she was looking for, but too beautiful and too unique to pass up. This was a listing for a small island with a handmade camp and lighthouse off the shores of Anasagunticook Lake, often called Canton Lake by locals, between the towns of Canton and Hartford.

Known as the Anasagunticook Lake Lighthouse, the camp and lighthouse was completed in 1938 by Charles Ray. A new top was put on the lighthouse in 1973. He called it Ray’s Light and over the years it has become an iconic image of the city of Canton. According to historians, the island is known as Rocky Mecca, in honor of the Rocymeka Indians who once inhabited the area.

For Seaman, trying to get back on the water, the property was too enticing to pass up, though she admits it won’t be her forever home.

“Not what I want long term, but the price was right and suited my immediate needs to have a project to take care of. Until I (find the perfect property), this project kept me busy in this inflated market,” she said.

Seaman bought it last May and has been working on it ever since, and she recognizes there is a lot to do. The first thing she did was pull everything out of the “cottage”, which had essentially remained the same for decades, and sealed the walls. One of the things that bothered Seaman right away was the sand that seemed to be everywhere. The mortar from the stone walls was coming off and covering the floor and all the surfaces inside. She sealed the walls, then put almost everything back in place, except for a small sailboat hanging from the rafters. It made the small space feel claustrophobic, she says. He is now at her home in Hebron.

Among the things that remain at the cabin for now: A picture of Mrs. Ray on a shelf above the kitchen counter, an old drawing on the cabin’s old refrigerator, and furniture from a bygone era.

Perhaps the biggest problem Seaman faces is the lack of a bathroom. She’s been working with the city to try and fix it, but she says “It’s a shitty topic that I’m having a hard time dealing with, for obvious reasons.”

Another problem: the birds. The island is a natural and attractive place where birds rest and feed. It is now surrounded by fences to discourage them from landing and hopefully remind people that this is a private island and not something they should feel free to explore. Seaman hung Tibetan prayer flags not only to carry prayers and mantras in the wind, but also to help avoid water impurities, she said. “Look how ragged they are. The wind really blows on the lake sometimes and they take a beating.”

If all of these deterrents don’t work against people and poultry, there’s a plastic wolf in the back that stands guard. The wharf is a whole other issue and the cormorants “leave their business card” everywhere, she says.

But what really baffles Seaman is the fact that his headlight has no working light. “How can you call it a lighthouse if there’s no light?” she said, sitting on a bench atop the 18-foot structure. (To reach the top, one enters the lighthouse through a door and climbs over metal bars that wind through the interior of the structure.) Seaman has ordered several solar-powered lights online, but none have worked like this yet. she wants it. . Another work in progress.

The property comes with a very thin slice of land along the shore where owners and guests can park their vehicles and launch a small boat or kayak. Seaman plans to purchase a pontoon boat to help transport people and supplies to the golf course-sized island a few hundred yards from shore. And she hints at the possibility of renting it through Vrbo or Airbnb, but the lack of a bathroom is a big obstacle. She knows that a bathroom will be both a cost and an added value to the property when it sells.

“I don’t plan on keeping it for long, but who knows. It’s a great place to get away for a few days or just an afternoon sitting in the sun after a paddle around the lake, which I just came back from. start exploring,” Seaman says. “There’s a Dunkin Donuts about a 10-minute paddle to Whitney Brook around the corner from here, that’s pretty handy.”

Sitting on the lawn in front of the island in one of the chairs she brought back from The Great Outdoors, Seaman talks about her past and her desire to return to a place on the water that feels like home and admits it’s not, “but for now it’s keeping me busy, it’s a great investment and I can still say I’ve owned an island with a lighthouse, well, as soon as I get a light up there.

“For now, it feeds my soul, keeps me busy and is very unique, like me.”

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