Block Island North
Block Island North Quick Facts
Year Station Established: 1829
Is the Light operational? Yes
Year Light First Lit: 1867
Year Automated: 1955
Shape: Octagonal on roof
Tower Height: 55 ft.
Original Optic: 4th Order, Fresnel
Present Optic: DCB-24
Existing Keepers Quarters? Yes
Year Constructed: 1867
Number of Stories: 2.5
Architectural Style: Victorian
Construction Materials: Granite
Block Island Lighthouse, North
Block Island, RI
(5 photos, 138KB total download)
Last Visited: June, 2000
Block Island North Light was established to mark the entrances to Block Island Sound and Long Island Sound, as well as to warn mariners away from dangerous Sandy Point, extending a mile or so from the island. The first lighthouse built here in 1829 consisted of two lights on opposite ends of a building. Two years later, the schooner Warrior was wrecked at Sandy Point in a storm. Twenty-one people died and seven of them were buried on Block Island.
The first building was soon threatened by the ocean, and in 1837 a new lighthouse was built farther inland. Again, two lights were erected at either end of a dwelling. The lights were considered too dim, and mariners complained that they looked like a single light from more than three miles. Another structure was built in 1857, but this one was soon overcome by the shifting sands.
The fourth lighthouse at Sandy Point was built by a Fall River contractor at a cost of $15,000, 700 yards from the end of the point. It went into service on September 14, 1868.
The lighthouse is a handsome granite dwelling with an iron tower. The building is very similar to several other lighthouses built about the same time, including Connecticut's Great Captain Island Light, Sheffield Island Light and Morgan Point Light, and New York's Field Point Light.
The new lighthouse received a fourth-order Fresnel lens, exhibiting a fixed white light visible for 13 1/2 miles. The light was later changed to an occulting light, and still later to a flashing light.
The lighthouse was deactivated in 1973. A skeleton tower a short distance away replaced "Old Granitesides."
In 1973 the United States Fish and Wildlife Service acquired Block Island North Light and 28 surrounding acres. It became a wildlife refuge, home to many species of birds. Little attention was paid to the lighthouse, which was the scene of much vandalism.
In 1984 the Fish and Wildlife Service sold the lighthouse and two acres of land to the Town of New Shoreham for $1.
Much renovation was completed in the next few years, and the North Light Commission convinced the Coast Guard to move the optic from the skeleton tower back into the lighthouse.
On August 5, 1989, the lighthouse was relighted, and in 1993 the restored first floor was opened as a museum.
New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide
Nearest Address: 1744 Corn Neck Rd, Block Island, RI
- From the ferry landing get on Water St. and then take a right onto Spring St.
- Take a left onto Ocean Ave.
- Take a right onto Corn Neck Road.
- Follow Corn Neck Road to the end at the state beach. From there you will need to walk about a mile over soft sand to the lighthouse.
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