CATSKILL — Kim Bach will never forget the first time she visited the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse.
Artists often paint the lighthouse, which stands in the middle of the Hudson River between the village of Athens an Hudson. A few years ago, a group of artists were invited to paint or capture the landscapes visible from inside the historic structure, and Bach was one of them.
“That was when I got intrigued,” the Hudson resident recalled. “For those of us who live here, it’s a beacon.”
Built in 1874, the lighthouse was constructed to guide ships safely around the Middle Ground Flats, according to hudsonathenslighthouse.org. The Hudson-Athens Lighthouse Preservation Society has been the sole owner the lighthouse since 2000, and is responsible for its maintenance, restoration and preservation.
A tea and cookie tasting fundraiser for the lighthouse was held at Verdigris Tea & Chocolate on Main Street in Catskill on Saturday evening where people could buy four different tea tins — each featuring a painting of the beacon in one of the four seasons and paired with a distinct flavor of tea.
Bach owns the Catskill shop, which is a sister store of Verdigris Tea & Chocolate located on Warren Street in Hudson.
This is the second year Verdigris is selling tins of tea to support the lighthouse’s preservation. The tea tin fundraiser has raised several hundred dollars for the society, Bach said.
“We just keep making more,” she added of the popular tea.
This year’s winter tin features a painting of the lighthouse by Dan Region and is paired with a cream Earl Grey tea. The tin for spring shows a piece painted by Georgia Van Zutphen and contains a tea called Hudson Garden Party. The summer selection has artwork by Gretchen Kelly with a Honeybush Cooler tea and the fall tin features a painting of the lighthouse by the late artist Perry Cooney with Roasted Mate Chai.
Cooney’s painting of the historic river building hangs in the Red Dot Restaurant & Bar on Warren Street in Hudson.
Van Zutphen, the artist whose work is on the spring tin, was enjoying tea and cookie samples Saturday with her featured painting on display for Verdigris customers.
Her 2010 painting shows the lighthouse from the Hudson side of the river, said Van Zutphen, who lives in Athens.
“When we moved here 11 years ago, I just fell in love with the lighthouse,” Van Zutphen said. “I love water. It’s romantic. It [the lighthouse] is special.”
The tea tins are for sale year-round at both shop locations for $15 each, Bach said. All proceeds from tea tin purchases go to the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse Preservation Society.
Preserving the historic lighthouse is a never-ending task, said Van Zutphen, who is a former HALPS board member.
The society has worked to build up the foundation of the aging lighthouse, but the waves and tides continue to cause it to break down, she said.
“If you think about it, it’s a house in the middle of the river, so the weather constantly deteriorates it,” Van Zutphen said.
Other areas of the lighthouse that need attention include repairs to the dock and maintenance to the pontoon the Little Spirit, which takes people to tour the lighthouse on the second Saturday of the month from July through October.
Money from events like Saturday’s fundraiser help preserve the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse for years to come, Van Zutphen said.
“You don’t want to see these things deteriorate... As river towns, it’s vital to the history of the Hudson River,” she said. “You don’t want to see it be gone for future generations.”
Another tea and cookie tasting fundraiser is scheduled to take place at Verdigris in Hudson after August’s tour of the lighthouse. The event is Aug. 12 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
For more information, visit hudsonathenslighthouse.org or verdigristea.com.