Five Mile Point Light (New Haven Harbor Lighthouse)

Description

Five Mile Point Light, also known as Five Mile Point Lighthouse or New Haven Harbor Lighthouse, is a historic lighthouse in New Haven, Connecticut. The lighthouse sits on the shores of the Long Island Sound at the entrance to New Haven Harbor.

The history of Five Mile Point Light dates back to 1779, during the American Revolutionary War. Five Mile Point Light was first illuminated in 1779, during the American Revolutionary War. In July of that year, British troops docked offshore and staged an attack on New Haven. This¬†took place on the site of the future lighthouse. As the attackers landed their boats, Patriot soldiers initiated a shoreline resistance. Despite burning Amos Morris’ house and numerous other residences in the vicinity, the British sustained serious losses and eventually abandoned their attack on New Haven.

The United States Congress approved a law in 1804, mandating the Secretary of the Treasury to construct a lighthouse at Five Mile Point if land could be purchased affordably. Amos Morris, Jr., the son of the man whose home was the first to be destroyed during the 1779 British invasion, sold a suitable one-acre section of his father’s seaside estate to the federal government for $100 in 1804.

On March 16, 1805, a $2500 budget was made for the lighthouse’s construction. Abisha Woodward built a 30-foot¬†octagonal wooden tower on the southwest end of the harbor to mark the passage around the Southwest Ledge.¬† Eight oil lamps with 13-inch parabolic reflectors provided the fixed white light, although it was criticized for being excessively faint. In 1805, a keeper’s cottage¬†was¬†added to the lighthouse. For only three weeks, Amos Morris Jr. was the first keeper of the light. The light stood 50 feet above the water, according to an 1832 report, and visibility had been improved by the removal of some trees.

Lieutenant George M. Bache stated in 1838 that the wooden tower and keeper’s residence were in terrible condition. On March 3, 1847, Congress appropriated $10,000 for the construction of a new stone lighthouse. Marcus Bassett built this magnificent 80-foot octagonal tower out of East Haven brownstone. 12 lamps with reflectors were installed 97 feet above sea level to illuminate this new lighthouse. A two-and-a-half-story brick house was also built at this period to replace the earlier, crumbling keeper’s residence. In 1855, the lamps were replaced with fourth-order Fresnel lenses, and a fog bell was installed in the 1860s. When the neighboring Southwest Ledge Light was finished in 1877, the Five Mile Point Light was decommissioned.

This area around the abandoned lighthouse was transformed into an amusement park known as Lighthouse Point Park. The park did not last. The park area, including the lighthouse, was purchased by the City of New Haven from the East Shore Amusement Company in 1924. The grounds are available to visitors all year, but entering the tower is only permitted on a limited basis. Visitors to Lighthouse Point Park can either walk out on a jetty to see the lighthouse or just wander up to it. Aside from the stunning lighthouse, the 82-acre park also includes a swimming area, splash pad, nature paths, bird sanctuary, antique carousel, and more! The lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

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Lighthouse Specs

  • Originally constructed: 1847
  • First lit: 1847
  • Construction: Brownstone (tower), Brownstone (basement)
  • Tower shape: Octagonal conical
  • Height: 80 ft (24 m)
  • Focal height: 97 ft (29 m)
  • Markings: White (tower), Black (lantern)
  • Characteristic: Decorative light
  • Range: N/A
  • Status: Deactivated
  • NRHP number: 90001108

Location

  • Address: 2 Lighthouse Rd
  • Town: New Haven
  • State: Connecticut
  • GPS: Lat 41.24896 Lng -72.90379
  • Parking notes: There are hundreds of parking spots in multiple lots off Park Ave – a few hundred feet from the lighthouse. Parking is free in the off-season. In the summer, New Haven vehicles are free, non-resident vehicles are $25/day, and out-of-state vehicles are $30/day.
  • Parking directions: HERE
  • Location directions: HERE

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