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My Favorite Things: Collector loves lighthouses of all shapes and sizes

by Becca Martin-Brown | March 5, 2023 at 1:00 a.m.
Muetzel says her collection is fluid. Visitors to her house may receive a lighthouse to take home with them or friends and neighbors may give her a new one for her collection. (Courtesy Photo)

We all have something -- or somewhere -- that fires up the serotonin just by holding it or seeing it: the woods where you grew up playing hide and seek, a Barbie doll collection that dates back to the 1950s, a cabinet full of your mother's old copper cookie cutters, the room in your house that makes you feel the most peaceful. "My Favorite Things" invites Northwest Arkansans to share those special things or places that brings them joy.

Jan Muetzel of Rogers loves nothing more than to launch into the lore of lighthouses.

"Do folks in this part of the country know that the Statue of Liberty is also a lighthouse? Alcatraz is also a lighthouse? [And] Boston Light was the first built and is still manned? So many folks have their own favorite lighthouse depending on their location or travels," she enthuses.

Born in Springfield, Mass., and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Muetzel's memories go clear back her mother taking her -- in a wicker stroller -- to see her first lighthouse, she says, and although she lived in Indiana, Oregon and Houston before moving to Northwest Arkansas, "I continued my interest in lighthouses wherever I lived and traveled.

"I joined the U.S. Lighthouse Society when they were getting started and offered life membership for $100. What a bargain!"

What do you collect? Lighthouses! Big and small -- one about 3 feet tall on the front porch plus lighthouse dishes, rugs, stationary, maps, books, placemats, etc.

How/when/why the collection began: Mother took me to see my first lighthouse while I was in a stroller. Nantucket Light. So I have always been attracted to them.

What appeals to you about these items? The people we meet. The history. The locations. The different constructions. The travel to visit in the United States and many countries.

What's the most expensive item in the collection? A pair of stained glass hangings for the living room, from husband Dean (deceased).

Where do you find most of the items in your collection? Flea markets? Thrift stores? Estate sales? Near the various lighthouses. Gifts from family and friends. [I especially] value the personally selected beach towel from North Carolina with lighthouses, a gift from from School Superintendent Dr. Roland Smith.

Is there "one that got away" – i.e., one you passed up and regretted not buying? NO!

Is your collection finished, or ongoing? If ongoing, will it ever be finished? Fluid. Have been finding new homes for them for several years.

Is there a white whale you're after? No.

What do people say about your collection? We were repeatedly asked to present "Lighthouse 101" in Rogers schools. Bonnie Grimes asked that we present to all her children not just grades four and five. Alan Bland of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was often on hand to help us. We also presented at schools in Pea Ridge, Bentonville, Fayetteville; at the library in Springdale; to clubs like the Questers and P.E.O. The Questers gave me the lighthouse plates on which they had served dessert, and I still have some which I use every day.

Will you ever run out of room for your collection and, if so, do you have a plan in that event? My collection is fluid. I often give one away to youngsters to encourage reading. Four youngsters from Lowell were here recently. When they finish reading the lighthouse story, they can select one of the 29 I have left.

What else do you collect? Sea shells, sharks' teeth, in the long past, Arkansas Senior Games medals (over 120).

Do you have a favorite collection or know someone who does? Email Features Editor Becca Martin-Brown at [email protected].

  photo  The biggest lighthouse in Jan Muetzel's collection stands on her front porch. (Courtesy Photo)
  photo  Muetzel also designed her own lighthouse stationary. (Courtesy Photo)
  photo  Muetzel treasures the stained glass her late husband commissioned for her. (Courtesy Photo)

Print Headline: Seeing first lighthouse early sparked lifelong passion for collector


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