“Why do we have to stay in a lighthouse, anyway?” whines my 11-year-old son, Sam, as we drive toward Lusby on a chilly, damp Saturday.
“It’s too cold to go in the water, so there’s not even gonna be anything to do!”
And then we pull into a private parking lot at the end of a long residential road and come to a stop.
Suddenly, there’s no more whimpering from the back seat.
In front of us rises the Cove Point Lighthouse, which has stood sentry over this part of the Chesapeake Bay since 1828. And next to it, fully restored and now open to overnight guests, sits its keeper’s quarters.
This is why we’re here.
“The [whole] site was turned over to the Calvert Marine Museum in 2000,” says Vanessa Gill, development director for the nearby museum.
Though repairs to the property spanned a decade, “The actual renovation of the keeper’s house took just over a year and involved taking it down to the studs,” she adds.
“We refinished the original floors, took out closets that had been built, and reinstalled historically correct windows with mullions.”
Not that my kids are concerned with mullions at the moment.
“I’m going to pick my room first!” Sam yells, sprinting up the porch steps the second my husband, Ben, unlocks the door to our side of the duplex-like house. Minnie Mouse backpack in tow, 5-year-old Elie scrambles after her brother.
Ben and I, on the other hand, just stand here.
The place is amazing.
“Local artist Ann Crain and I designed the kitchens, selected all the finishes, and purchased all the furnishings,” says Gill.
Looking around, it seems “created a spectacular space” is a more apt description of what they achieved.
Filled with eclectic furniture, the cozy living room gives way to a gourmet kitchen stocked with stainless-steel appliances, dishes, and utensils—except for a particularly crucial one, I notice, my knuckles growing white.
“Don’t worry,” Ben says. “I found the corkscrew. It’s in the third drawer down on the right.”
Above us, the kids’ footsteps fade as they move from the second floor—with its two bedrooms and full bath—to the third.
And then we hear a thud.
“I’m alright!” chirps Elie.
Having never met a surface she couldn’t wipe out on, our preschooler just slid down two of the glossy, painted steps. Luckily, the staircase is narrow enough that she grabs the rail and rights herself.
By the time she does, Sam has already leapfrogged over her and laid claim to the gorgeous third-floor bedroom. Who knew a sixth-grader would swoon at fluffy linens and a private bathroom? (The flatscreen TV doesn’t hurt, either.)
Suitcases tucked away, we head outside to survey our digs. Although the grounds are open for tours, there’s no one here today. And since the compound is fenced and the gate to the beach locked, we let the kids explore (and even poke their heads inside the lighthouse) with no fear of them being run over or washed away.
Still, it’s the tide that calls to them, so it’s not long before we’re on the frosty, shell-strewn beach, the kids busy throwing rocks and sticks into the surf, while I search for mantel-worthy driftwood and sea glass.
Before we realize it, hours have passed. Sam and Elie—weighed down with oyster shells and other treasures—are shivering and hungry. A three-minute walk later, we’re back inside the keeper’s quarters, toasty warm and snacking on the goodies we brought from home.
Across the bay, an icy drizzle falls on Dorchester County. But in here, next to the beautiful lighthouse casting its everlasting glow on the waves, we’re snug, content, and completely delighted.
Turns out, there’s plenty to do on the bay even when it’s too cold to go in the water.
The Cove Point Lighthouse keeper’s home, located at 3500 Lighthouse Boulevard in Lusby, is available for rental year-round. Proceeds benefit the Calvert Marine Museum. For more information, call 410-474-5370 or visit www.calvertmarinemuseum.com. To learn more about the lighthouse keeper's quarters were brought back to life click here