Hospital Point Range Front Lighthouse

Beverly, Massachusetts
Hospital Point Range Front Lighthouse is a beautiful and historic lighthouse in Beverly, Massachusetts. It was established in 1871.
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About This Location

Hospital Point Range Front Lighthouse, an integral part of Beverly, Massachusetts’ maritime history, stands at the end of Bayview Avenue as a beacon guiding vessels toward Salem Harbor. This historic lighthouse, listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Hospital Point Light Station, has a rich maritime heritage deeply intertwined with the town of Beverly.

The role played by Beverly and its privateers during the American Revolution holds a special place in history. When the Continental Navy could boast only thirty-one ships, privateer ships—privately owned merchant vessels commissioned and armed under Letters of Marque—came to the fore. Many of these privateers were based in Beverly and played a pivotal role in intercepting British shipping in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and even between Ireland and England. In 1777, at the height of the Revolution, the Continental Navy had 11,000 men, and there were an equal number of privateers. The ship Hannah, commissioned by the nascent navy, embarked from Beverly on September 5, 1775, earning the town the distinction of being considered the birthplace of the U.S. Navy.

The establishment of Hospital Point Lighthouse in Beverly was closely linked to the ocean-going trade of Salem. The need for additional lights in Salem Harbor led to the recommendation by the Lighthouse Board in 1869 to “complete the lighting” of the harbor. This plan called for three new lights, including one at Hospital Point, to help mariners enter Salem Sound. Congress allocated $30,000 for these lights on July 15, 1870, and the town of Beverly transferred approximately two acres of land at Hospital Point to the federal government for use as a light station.

Hospital Point, named after a smallpox hospital constructed there in 1801, saw the first light on May 1, 1871. The lighthouse, initially housed in a temporary structure, found its permanent home in 1872 inside a ten-sided black lantern room mounted atop a forty-five-foot-tall square brick tower. A charming two-story Queen Anne Revival-style keeper’s dwelling was constructed nearby.

The Hospital Point Light, established in 1871, marked the deepwater channel to Beverly, Salem, and Marblehead. Two bronze plaques on-site provide historical information—one commemorates Beverly men who manned a Revolutionary War fort at the location, while the other describes the lighthouse and the smallpox hospital that once stood there. Although the lighthouse was first illuminated in 1872, it was automated in 1947, with the Fresnel lens replaced in 1976 and an acrylic optic installed in 1981. The original 3.5-order Fresnel Lens now resides at the lighthouse.

The lighthouse tower, a square pyramidal structure standing at 44 feet in height, is constructed of white-painted brick and crowned with a ten-sided lantern. Five sash windows grace the tower, with the entrance facing the keeper’s house. Nearby, a small brick oil house stands as a testament to bygone days.

Hospital Point Light is still owned and operated by the United States Coast Guard. It forms part of a pair of range lights, working in conjunction with a second light installed in the steeple of Beverly’s First Baptist Church in 1927. Mariners use these lights to align themselves with the middle of the channel, avoiding the perilous rocky shores.

While the interior of the lighthouse is not open to the public, tours are offered each August during Beverly Homecoming celebrations. These tours provide visitors with the opportunity to climb 40 winding stairs and a ladder to reach the top of the light, offering stunning views of the surrounding area. For those interested in experiencing the lighthouse from a distance, it can be observed from nearby Bayview Avenue, or for the best views, by boat. The Coast Guard maintains the property, which is enclosed by a fence and gate, ensuring the preservation of this maritime landmark for generations to come.

Lighthouse Specs

  • Year Constructed: 1871
  • First Lit: 1872
  • Construction: Brick
  • Tower Shape: Square pyramidal tower with attached house
  • Height: 44 feet
  • Focal Height: 70 feet
  • Markings: White tower with a black lantern
  • Characteristic: Flashing white light
  • Range: N/A
  • Status: Active
  • NRHP Number: 87002031

Location

Address: 1 Bayview Avenue, Beverly, Massachusetts
Place GPS Coordinates: 42.546500, -70.855917
Parking GPS Coordinates: 42.546500, -70.855917
Parking Notes: The lighthouse is owned by the Coast Guard and the grounds and tower are only open for a few days throughout the year. That said, there is a small parking area adjacent to it. Another view of the lighthouse can be had from nearby Salem Willows Park.

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