About This Location
Nestled on the westernmost point of Islesboro, Maine, Grindle Point Lighthouse has long been a historic beacon, marking the west entrance to Gilkey Harbor. Gilkey Harbor, blessed with easy access and deep waters, is regarded as one of Maine's finest, named after John Gilkey, an early settler who arrived in 1772.
The genesis of this light station can be traced back to 1849 when the United States Navy authorized its construction. By the following year, the first tower and keeper's house had taken form. However, this initial station proved less sturdy, and in 1874, the brick structures were deemed beyond repair.
In 1874, the current Grindle Point Lighthouse rose from the ashes of its predecessor, built upon the foundation of the old structure. Standing 39 feet tall, this lighthouse boasts a square tower constructed from brick, sporting a distinctive white exterior with a black lantern. Over the years, the station saw various enhancements, including a new boathouse in 1886, a brick cistern and stone retaining wall in 1887, the reconstruction of a 16x24-foot barn in 1892, and the addition of a still-standing oil shed in 1905. Further enhancing its navigational aid capabilities, a 1,000-pound fog bell, manually rung, was installed on the grounds in 1897.
In 1923, the U.S. Coast Guard outlined plans to automate the light, raising concerns among the public. In response, the Coast Guard installed a new light on a nearby steel tower in 1934, leaving the old lighthouse tower and building in the hands of the town of Islesboro for a sum of $1,200. The town subsequently transformed them into the Sailors' Memorial Museum.
However, due to significant public pressure, the Coast Guard reinstated the light in 1987. Equipped with a solar-powered optic emitting a flashing green light, the skeleton tower was removed. This green light now extends its guidance for mariners up to 4 nautical miles.
In recognition of its historical and architectural significance, Grindle Point Lighthouse earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places on March 13, 1987, signifying its importance in the nation's heritage. This registration (reference number: 87000427) underscores its role in preserving maritime history.
Today, Grindle Point Lighthouse is conveniently located just west of Ferry Road, near the wharf serving the ferry connecting Islesboro to the mainland at Lincolnville. This accessibility ensures that visitors to the island have the opportunity to admire this enduring landmark. Parking spaces are also available near the lighthouse for those traveling by car on the island.
The lighthouse keeper's dwelling has been transformed into the Grindle Point Sailor's Museum, while the lighthouse tower is open for tours from July 1st to Labor Day. Tour house are Friday & Saturday - 9:30AM to 4:30PM and Sunday - 12:30PM to 4:30PM. The tower offers a captivating walk within, and from its lantern, visitors are rewarded with panoramic views of the western side of Penobscot Bay and Gilkey Harbor. Additionally, the boat house and oil shed still stand proudly, making for fascinating viewing. Knowledgeable lightkeepers are often present during tour hours to answer questions and provide enlightening historical insights, enriching the experience for all who visit.