Jamie Wyeth says he can hear the horn from his house on Monhegan. “It constantly blows. It’s so funny. People ask, ‘Aren’t you bothered by this horn?’ You get used to it. Manana is so different from Monhegan. Manana is very stark, no trees, exposed. Wild. I love it on because nobody goes there. I used to go in and have lunch with the guys who operated the station, before it was automated.
“I’ve painted the Sound Station a number of times. My father painted it, too. One of my paintings is Bronze Age, which they have at the Farnsworth, the one with the bell on the ground. That’s what the keeper rang before they had foghorns.”
One look at Bronze Age and you can hear the bell’s deafening silence.
“It certainly was ringing in my ears when I painted it. When I got there, it was just the bell [on the ledge] beside the Sound Station, with the carriage rotted away. I loved the notion that it was still there. Before the foghorn, I don’t know if the keeper went out every hour or what he hit it with!”
Can someone truly own a property like this, or do the birds own it?
“Well, yeah. I used to go over and help the island shepherd shear his sheep. He’d lived there for years. With no one to talk to otherwise, he was non-stop talker. Of course he ended up sounding like a sheep! Ho-o-o-o-w a-a-a-r-e you-u-u do-o-oing-g-g? He let me use a pair of his old metal shears. After an hour of so I was just completely soaked with lanolin. I knew wool had lanolin, but I had no idea how much.”
We were going to ask you, ‘What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen or heard happen on Manana,’ but I think you’ve just told it to us. You like to rescue lighthouses (Southern Island). Do you have a personal interest in entering the bidding for the Manana Sound Station?
“I really don’t. I don’t think any group is going forward. I love the idea that it’s a still a working station, and I actually own one tenth of Manana, but I have enough to do on Southern Island to keep me busy with lighthouses.”
To enter the bidding, $10,000 is needed as a minimum bid (registration deposit is $5,000). The GSA sales portfolio reports this ramshackle 1855 landmark as “0.15 acres improved with a two-story, white, wooden clapboard, four-bedroom former Keeper’s Quarters that measures 2,958 square feet…[There’s a] brick foundation with a brick cistern in the basement and an attached deck.” Thrown in for the bargain: “a brick Sound Signal Building with a wooden tower, constructed in 1889, and measuring approximately 220 square feet,” according to the Government Invitation for Bids. To participate, contact Barbara J. Salfity at 617-565-5696.
“The auction is ongoing right now,” says Tiffany Lanceleve of Property Disposal. To see who’s winning, “Follow the bidding on GSA’s web site: realestatesales.gov/gsaauctions/aucitdsc. We won’t set an end date until we’ve scheduled the on-site inspection.”
What you don’t get: “The U.S. Coast Guard will retain the solar array, fog signal equipment, the equipment storage building (1905), the walkway, and the boat launch.”
Imagine–you can live in a Jamie Wyeth painting. You and yours will inherit the wind.