Marblehead Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse located on Marblehead Neck at the entrance to Marblehead Harbor in Massachusetts.
Marblehead residents requested that a lighthouse be built at the harbor’s entrance in August 1831 due to an increase in marine traffic. A 23-foot tall tower was built in 1835 after Congress approved the project. It went into commission on October 10, 1835. Inside an octagonal lantern, this tower featured 10 whale oil-burning lamps. The old lamp system was replaced in 1857 by a Fresnel lens and reflectors of sixth order. Despite the upgrades and repairs to the tower and keepers’ house, the tower itself fell into despair. A new light was requested in 1893.
There were plans to build a new brick lighthouse that would stand 100 feet tall. The cost of this tower was projected to be $45,000, which the government refused to pay. Instead, a significantly less expensive 100-foot skeleton structure design was selected. This tower would only $8,786. It would become New England’s lone tower of its kind; the next closest tower is in Coney Island, New York.
Eight cast iron piles on concrete foundations made up the new Marblehead Light. The skeleton tower was topped with a kerosene lamp with a sixth-order Fresnel lens. It was first lit as a fixed white light on April 17, 1896. It was then changed to fixed red in 1922, and subsequently to fixed green in 1938. The light was electrified and automated in 1960. A new 300 mm (12 in) optic was added in 1960.
The Town of Marblehead now maintains the tower and the surrounding Chandler Hovey Park which features picnic tables, benches, and scenic views. The active light is still being monitored by the Coast Guard. Despite calls to paint the tower a “prettier” white on a regular basis, the tower retains its original “metallic brown.” Carl Siegel, a member of the Marblehead Rotary Club, was honored in 2012 for arranging the stringing and maintenance of lights atop the lighthouse every Christmas and Fourth of July for the past twenty years.
Looking for more great lighthouses on the North Shore of Massachusetts? Be sure to check out our blog post covering The 10 North Shore Massachusetts Lighthouses To Visit/Photograph!
- Originally constructed: 1835
- Current tower constructed: 1895
- First lit: 1895 (current tower)
- Construction: Cast Iron (current)
- Tower shape: Square skeletal
- Height: 105 feet (32 m)
- Focal height: 130 feet (40 m)
- Markings: Brown with black gallery and lantern
- Characteristic: Fixed green
- Range: 7 nautical miles (13 km; 8.1 mi)
- Status: Active
- NRHP number: 87001479