About This Location
Hendricks Head Light, an iconic lighthouse standing sentinel on the west side of the Sheepscot River's mouth in Southport, Maine, boasts a rich maritime history dating back to its establishment in 1829. This historic light station, with its present structures dating to 1875, is not only a picturesque reminder of Maine's seafaring past but also holds a special place in the hearts of those who appreciate the enduring legacy of coastal beacons.
Originally established to guide mariners navigating the waters near the entrance of the Sheepscot River, Hendricks Head Light played a crucial role in providing safe passage to ships accessing the important shipbuilding and port center of Wiscasset during the 19th century.
The light station's initial configuration included a keeper's house, strategically built on a sturdy rubble foundation, topped with a lantern house to house the guiding light. The present tower and keeper's house, constructed in 1875 on the foundation of the previous building, stand as enduring symbols of maritime heritage.
Adding to the charm of Hendricks Head Light, a pyramidal skeleton-type bell tower was added in 1891, contributing to the station's distinct appearance. An oil house, constructed in 1895, served the practical purpose of storing fuel for the light. Before the addition of the bell tower, a small hand-operated bell alerted mariners to potential dangers.
The present tower, a square brick structure rising 39 feet, stands tall as a beacon of maritime history. Over the years, it has undergone changes in lighting technology, transitioning from its original 5th order Fresnel lens to a modern optic. Today, the light flashes white with a red sector, visible up to 9 nautical miles away, ensuring its continued role in maritime safety.
In 1933, the light was converted to automatic operation using acetylene gas, and the fog bell was discontinued. Subsequently, the light was replaced by an offshore buoy, marking a shift in the dynamics of maritime navigation. The lighthouse and its surroundings were sold to Dr. William P. Browne of Connecticut in 1934, ending the era of its exclusive use for maritime purposes.
Despite changes in ownership and the challenges posed by a ferocious winter storm in 1978, which damaged the boathouse and walkway, the light persevered. In 1951, with the arrival of electricity in the area, Dr. Browne allowed the Coast Guard to automate and recommission the light, reestablishing its maritime role.
The Browne family maintained ownership until 1991, when the lighthouse found new stewards in Ben and Luanne Russell of Alabama. Their passion for lighthouses and dedication to preservation resulted in a meticulous restoration of all structures on Hendricks Head, transforming it into a pristine and picture-perfect light station.
The recognition of Hendricks Head Light's historical significance culminated in its addition to the National Register of Historic Places on November 20, 1987. This prestigious designation underscores the lighthouse's importance in preserving the maritime history of Southport, Maine. It's reference number is 87002024.
Today, while access to the lighthouse and its grounds is restricted, visitors can admire its timeless beauty from Hendrick’s Head Beach, a short distance away. The lighthouse stands as a beacon not only guiding ships but also illuminating the enduring spirit of Maine's coastal heritage. Hendricks Head Light remains a cherished landmark, symbolizing the maritime legacy of Southport and earning its place as a celebrated icon along the picturesque coastline of Maine.