Marblehead Light Quick Facts
Year Station Established: 18
Is the Light operational? Yes
Year Light First Lit: 1896
Year Automated: 1960
Shape: Square Skeletal
Tower Height: 105 ft.
Present Optic: 300mm
Existing Keepers Quarters? No
(9 photos, 175KB total download)
Last Visited: April, 2002
Marblehead Light is situated on Marblehead Neck in Essex County, Massachusetts. The current tower is a skeletal structure that replaced the original 1835 brick and wood tower in 1895. It is the only tower of its type in New England, the next similar tower is to be found at Coney Island, New York. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places, on June 15, 1987 as number #87001479 under Lighthouses of Massachusetts Thematic Group.
The United States Coast Guard Light List description is "Square skeleton tower; brown to gallery; black above". The actual light is 130 feet (40 m) above Mean High Water. Its fixed green light is visible for 7 nautical miles (13 km).
In August 1831, the townspeople of Marblehead requested that a lighthouse be built at the entrance to the harbour. Congress granted the wish and a 23 foot (7m) high tower was built in 1835 and commissioned on 10 October 1835. This tower had an array of ten whale oil burning lamps inside an octagonal lantern.
In 1857, the old lamp system was replaced by a sixth order Fresnel lens and reflectors. Despite the upgrade and work on the tower and associated keepers' house, the tower itself was in a poor condition and by 1893 a new light was requested. The new light was completed in 1895 at a cost of $8,786, the cost being much reduced by using a skeletal frame rather than rebuilding the old tower.
This new light consisted of eight cast iron piles on concrete foundations. The light was a sixth order Fresnel lens with a kerosene lamp. It was first illuminated on 17 April 1896 as a fixed white light. Later in 1922 it was changed to fixed red and then in 1938 to fixed green. In 1960, the light was automated and a new 300mm optic was installed.
The lighthouse itself is not open but it resides within Chandler Hovey Park, which is open to the public.
Nearest Address: 5 Follett St, Marblehead, MA
- From Salem take Route 114 south, or from Lynn/Swampscott take 129 north into Marblehead
- Turn east onto Ocean Ave and take for about 1 mile, turning left onto Harbor Ave.
- Ocean Ave reconnects with Harbor Ave. Follow it to the end.
- Then take a left onto Follet St., which is one-way.
- Take Follet St. into Chandler Hovey Park.
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