Last Visited: September, 2010
Winter Harbor, on the west side of the Schoodic Peninsula, near the entrance to Frenchman Bay, was long a favorite safe harbor for mariners seeking shelter from storms.
After a congressional appropriation of $4,500 in August 1854, a lighthouse was built on the southern point of little (about four acres, depending on the tide) Mark Island to guide vessels into the harbor and to warn of dangerous ledges nearby.
The Lighthouse Board announced in June 1856 that a fixed white light would be shown from a fifth-order Fresnel lens, atop a white cylindrical brick tower, 37 feet above high water.
The lighthouse went into service on January 1, 1857. Attached to the tower was a wood-frame, one-and-one-half-story keeper’s dwelling, painted brown. For many years, the station also had a fog bell with automatic striking machinery.
Although it was located almost a mile offshore, the island was considered a pleasant family light station. In its 76 years of active service, only nine keepers and their families lived on Mark Island. The longest tenure was that of Adelbert C. Leighton of Steuben, Maine, who served from 1896 to about 1927.
In August 1933, the light was discontinued and replaced by a lighted buoy to the southeast. The last keeper was Lester Leighton.
In 1934, George Harmon of Bar Harbor bought the property at auction for $552. Three years later, Bernice Richmond, a writer and musician, and her husband, sociologist Reginald Robinson, a sociologist, bought the island from Harmon for $2,000.
In the 1950s, the island was bought by Rene Prud’hommeaux, an author of children’s novels, including The Sunken Forest and The Port of Missing Men.
Prud’hommeaux’s wife, Patricia, wrote a children’s book about Mark Island called The Light in the Tower, published in 1957 under the name Joan Howard. The book tells the story of a lighthouse much like the Winter Harbor Light, but in the book the lighthouse is relighted as an aid to navigation thanks to a caring young boy.
After the Prud’hommeauxs, the island was owned for a time by the playwright Gerald Kean. William C. Holden III, a financial consultant, writer, and artist, bought the property in 1995, after it had been unused for about a decade.
Holden sold the property in late 2004. The lighthouse can be seen distantly from the loop road on Acadia National Park's Schoodic Penninsula. It can also be seen from some of the tour boats leaving Bar Harbor.
New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide
Nearest Address: Moore Rd, Winter Harbor, ME
- Take Route 1 north (from Ellsworth and points south) into West Gouldboro.
- In W. Gouldboro take a right onto Route 186.
- Follow Route 186 until you see signs for Acadia National Park.
- Turn right onto Moore Road.
- Moore Road will take you into the Park. The park road is a one-way road.
- Along the park road you can view Mark Island and the lighthouse off to your right.
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