Eastern Point Lighthouse

Gloucester, Massachusetts
Eastern Point Lighthouse, standing tall on Cape Ann in Gloucester, Massachusetts, is a historical beacon which has been lit for 200 years.
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About This Location

Eastern Point Lighthouse: Guiding Mariners to Gloucester Harbor’s Legacy

Eastern Point Lighthouse, standing tall and proud on Cape Ann in Gloucester, Massachusetts, is a historical and iconic maritime beacon. Its enduring light has illuminated the way for countless ships entering Gloucester Harbor, the oldest seaport in the United States. For centuries, since 1616, this harbor has provided essential support to fishermen, whalers, and commerce.

A Beacon Born from Necessity

In the early 1800s, the residents of Gloucester recognized the need for a lighthouse to safeguard their cherished fleets of elegant schooners. While a lighthouse was constructed on Ten Pound Island in Gloucester Port in 1821, it remained invisible from outside the harbor. Mariners often confused Bemo Ledge with Eastern Point, leading to numerous shipwrecks in Brace Cove. Before the creation of Eastern Point Lighthouse, a grove of oak trees served as the sole marker for vessels approaching the port.

The Light Takes Form

In 1829, after purchasing suitable land from George Burnham for $100, a stone daymark with a light was erected on the point at the cost of $1,188. The first true Eastern Point Lighthouse emerged in 1831, under the craftsmanship of Samuel Friend, at an expense of $2,579. This transformation saw the conversion of the previous day marker into a lighthouse, complete with a wrought iron lantern and copper dome. On January 1, 1832, its thirty-foot tower proudly emanated a fixed white light for the first time.

A Tower’s Evolution

Over the years, Eastern Point Lighthouse saw changes. The tower was rebuilt in 1848 and once more in 1890. The current conical brick tower, which reaches a height of 36 feet, is the third incarnation. Constructed in 1890, it includes an adjoining two-story keeper’s apartment. Positioned at a focal height of 57 feet, its white light flashes every 5 seconds, providing guidance visible from up to 20 nautical miles away.

The End of an Era

In 1985, Eastern Point Lighthouse transitioned to automation. Approximately twenty neighbors attended the automation ceremony, witnessing a significant chapter in the lighthouse’s history. Carroll Wonson, the great-grandson of the light’s original keeper, had the privilege of being the last person to manually activate the light. Today, it continues to flash its white signal every five seconds.

Preservation and Honor

On September 30, 1987, Eastern Point Lighthouse received the prestigious recognition of being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This distinction underlines the lighthouse’s vital role in maritime history. Its reference number, 87002027, serves as a testament to its enduring legacy.

The Present and Accessibility

Presently, the United States Coast Guard oversees the operation of Eastern Point Lighthouse, and the tower itself remains closed to the public. However, visitors can enjoy limited parking at the end of Eastern Point Boulevard, providing access to this historic site. With approximately 12 parking spots available, this lot is managed by the Massachusetts Audubon as part of the Eastern Point Wildlife Sanctuary. Visitors are encouraged to contribute a small fee on an honor system basis (typically $5-$10).

While visiting, don’t miss the nearby Dog Bar Breakwater Lighthouse which is located on the breakwater infront of Eastern Point Lighthouse. Additionally, Ten Pound Island Light, situated a short distance from Eastern Point, offers another intriguing glimpse into the area’s maritime heritage. For anyone with an interest in maritime history or simply an appreciation for the beauty of lighthouses, Eastern Point Lighthouse is a must-see destination.

Location

Address: Eastern Point Boulevard, Gloucester, Massachusetts
Place GPS Coordinates: 42.580271, -70.664455
Parking GPS Coordinates: 42.580271, -70.664455
Parking Notes: There is limited parking near the lighthouse at the end of Eastern Point Boulevard. There are about 12 parking spots here. The parking lot is operated by the Massachusetts Audubon as part of the Eastern Point Wildlife Sanctuary. A small fee is requested from visitors on an honor system box ($5-$10).

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