This film, produced in high-definition, brings to life the extraordinary story of Ida Zoradia Lewis, America’s most famous woman lighthouse keeper. Ida took over the duties at Lime Rock Lighthouse in Newport, R.I. at the age of 15 when her father suffered a stroke in the 1850s.
Not only did she tend the light for more than 50 years, but she single-handedly saved 18 people (this is what is officially documented but there is speculation she likely saved upwards of 30 lives), many of them soldiers making their way across the bay from Fort Adams to the watering holes in Newport. This 103-pound woman was a darling of Civil War heroes and a celebrity in her own right. After receiving national publicity for one of her daring rescues – including a front-page illustration and story in Harper’s Weekly – tens of thousands of people flocked to meet her on the island.
Hailed as the “bravest woman in America,” Ida Lewis received countless medals and awards, including the “Life Saving Medal of the First Class” conferred upon her by the U.S. Government saying her rescues demonstrated “unquestionable nerve, presence of mind, and dashing courage.”
But Ida’s story is not without conflict and personal suffering, all of which she endured for the sake of her true love – the Lime Rock Lighthouse. Despite her age, gender, class, and lack of education, Ida Lewis managed to transcend the implicit and overwhelming bias and discrimination against women and fulfill her true potential and her life’s work.
Yes, the “light” was “her child” at Lime Rock, but more importantly, despite society’s pressures and expectations, she gave herself permission to be the strong, independent, fearless woman of which she knew she was capable.
The film premiered in Newport in May 2014 and was selected and presented by the R.I. International Film Festival two months later. The doc aired on R.I. PBS in the Fall of 2014 and will hopefully air nationally on PBS stations across the country. After all, she is truly an American heroine.