F. Ross Holland Jr., 78, the dean of American lighthouse historians and the author of a book on the Statue of Liberty's restoration in the 1980s, died Sept. 16 of Alzheimer's disease at his home in Mason, N.H. Before moving to Mason in the late 1990s, he was a longtime resident of Silver Spring.
Mr. Holland, a historian for more than three decades with the National Park Service, was the author of numerous books about lighthouses and their builders and keepers, including "America's Lighthouses: An Illustrated History" (1988), "Great American Lighthouses" (1995) and "Maryland Lighthouses of the Chesapeake" (1997).
"There is not a bad lighthouse, because they come in a variety of shapes and forms and their settings -- normally spectacular -- increases their differences, their beauty and charm," he wrote in a foreword to "Great American Lighthouses."
He told a House subcommittee in 1986 that the nation's lighthouses needed attention because of their historic value, even though most of them no longer were in use as lighthouses. He recommended preserving and protecting their exteriors while adapting their interiors for use as vacation homes, youth hostels, restaurants and shops.
In his book "Idealists, Scoundrels and the Lady" (1993), he chronicled the campaign to restore the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. As director of restoration and preservation of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, he offered an insider's view of the first major effort to solicit private money to rehabilitate a government site. Relying on tape recordings he made regularly, Mr. Holland covered the project from its inception through the hiring -- and then firing -- of Lee Iacocca as chairman of the fundraising effort and finally to the project's completion in 1986.
Francis Ross Holland Jr. was born in Savannah, Ga., and graduated from Georgia State University in 1949. He received a master's degree in history from the University of Texas at Austin in 1958.
He served in the Navy during World War II and was recalled in 1950 to serve in Korea.
He joined the National Park Service in the late 1940s. Early in his career, he was a park ranger at Shiloh National Military Park in Tennessee ("almost a prerequisite for a good Southern boy," his brother remarked). During his years with the Park Service, he was a park historian at Morristown National Historical Park in New Jersey, Cabrillo National Monument and Channel Islands National Monument in Southern California and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park in Cumberland, Md. He also served in Denver, Boston and Washington in various Park Service management positions.
In 1975, he was a member of a delegation of government officials and private citizens that toured the Soviet Union examining that nation's historic preservation efforts. In 1981, he administered the historical monuments accords between the United States and China.
He joined the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation after his retirement from the National Park Service in 1983. He retired again in 1986.
Mr. Holland received the Department of the Interior's Meritorious Service Award for contributions to historic preservation and, in 1983, the department's highest award, the Distinguished Service Award, for "outstanding contributions to the National Park Service in the field of cultural resources."
Survivors include his wife of 58 years, June Holland of Mason; a son, Henry R. Holland of Mason; a brother, James R. Holland of Washington; and three grandchildren.