About This Location
Nestled on the picturesque Wigwam Point at the entrance of the Annisquam River in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the Annisquam Harbor Lighthouse stands as a beacon of maritime history. It is one of the oldest established lighthouses in Massachusetts and proudly holds a place on the National Register of Historic Places.
The story of this venerable lighthouse begins in 1801 when the original wooden structure was constructed. Its primary purpose was to guide mariners safely around the intricate coastal geography of the Gloucester Peninsula and the challenging waters of Annisquam River. George Day assumed the role of the lighthouse keeper, a duty he faithfully fulfilled from 1801 to 1850.
However, this initial lighthouse was not a paragon of durability. In 1843, a civil engineer named I.W.P. Lewis conducted a comprehensive inspection of the lighthouse, the keeper's home, and the oil storage shed. His report painted a picture of a structure plagued by rot, cracks, and leaks. Concerned for the safety of mariners and the effectiveness of the navigational aid, George Day wrote to Congress, urging them to fund much-needed repairs based on Lewis's assessment.
Congress recognized the urgency and allocated the necessary funds for the construction of a new lighthouse on Wigwam Point. In 1897, a robust brick tower emerged, replacing its wooden predecessor. This tower, standing tall at 41 feet, represented a significant improvement in strength and longevity. Remnants of the original light station complex, completed in 1814, including the keeper's house and an oil house, still grace the property. A raised wooden walkway ushers visitors to the cylindrical tower, which boasts a sturdy stone foundation. Accessible via an enclosed brick passageway, the lighthouse plays a pivotal role in safeguarding mariners navigating the treacherous waters, protecting them from long sandbars and the rocky shoreline along the Annisquam River.
In 1974, the Annisquam Lighthouse took its final bow as a manned station, transitioning into full automation. The last keeper bid farewell, but the United States Coast Guard retained ownership of the building and the surrounding 1.3 acres, housing a Coast Guard family. Today, the Annisquam Harbor Light Station remains a vital navigational aid, silently guiding vessels through these waters. Although not open to the public, its light continues to shine.
In recognition of its historical and architectural significance, the Annisquam Harbor Lighthouse earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places on June 15, 1987 (reference number: 87001526). This prestigious designation underscores its importance in preserving maritime heritage.
As the lighthouse is privately owned, it does not offer parking facilities. Norwood Heights, the surrounding area, is also privately owned. To catch a glimpse of the Annisquam Lighthouse, one of the best vantage points is from Wingaersheek Beach in Gloucester. The beach boasts a spacious parking lot, with fees applicable during the summer months, offering a picturesque view of this enduring maritime sentinel.