Boston Harbor Light
Boston Light Quick Facts
Year Station Established: 1716
Is the Light operational? Yes
Year Light First Lit: 1783
Year Automated: 1998
Tower Height: 89 ft.
Original Optic: 2nd Order, Fresnel
Present Optic: 2nd Order, Fresnel
Existing Keepers Quarters? Yes
Year Constructed: 1885
Number of Stories: 2
Architectural Style: Victorian
Construction Materials: Wood
Boston Harbor Lighthouse
(12 photos, 326KB total download)
Last Visited: April, 2002
Boston Light is a lighthouse located on Little Brewster Island in outer Boston Harbor, Massachusetts. The first lighthouse to be built on the site dates back to 1716, and was the first lighthouse to be built in what is now the United States. The current lighthouse dates from 1783, is the second oldest working lighthouse in the US (after Sandy Hook Lighthouse in New Jersey), and was the only lighthouse to still be actively staffed by the United States Coast Guard, being automated in 1998 though there are still volunteer keepers acting as tour guides]. The structure was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964.
The first keeper of Boston Light was George Worthylake, who drowned, along with his wife and daughter, when returning to the island in 1718. During the American Revolution, the original lighthouse was held by British forces and was attacked and burnt on two occasions by American forces. As the British forces withdrew in 1776, they blew up the tower and completely destroyed it. The lighthouse was eventually reconstructed in 1783, to the same 75-foot (23 m) height as the original tower. In 1856 it was raised to its present height of 98 feet (30 m) and a new lantern room was added along with a 12-sided second order Fresnel lens.
Boston Light was automated in 1998, but is still staffed by a resident civilian keeper assisted by volunteer watchstanders from the Coast Guard Auxiliary. However, these personnel are mostly used to act as interpretive tour guides for visitors.
Its light, flashing white every 10 seconds, shines through the only second-order Fresnel lens still in use in Massachusetts (of only four total), and is visible from a distance of 27 nautical miles (50 km). Although it is still an important navigation mark, its importance has been decreased over the last century by the use of Boston Harbor's North Channel for most large vessels entering the harbor.
- Boston Harbor Light is only accessible by boat. The Boston Harbor Island Alliance runs summer tours of Little Brewster Island, and visitors can climb Boston Light. Go to www.islandalliance.org and click private events and group tours for more information.