Barrington, Rhode Island

In Barrington, Rhode Island, Nayatt Point Lighthouse stands as a historic sentinel, gracing the entrance of the Providence River with its enduring charm.

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About This Location

Nayatt Point Lighthouse: Guiding Ships and Writing History

Nestled along the picturesque shores of Barrington, Rhode Island, Nayatt Point Lighthouse stands as a historic sentinel, gracing the entrance of the Providence River with its enduring charm.

Navigational Necessity

The origins of Nayatt Point Lighthouse date back to the early 1800s, a time when Providence had emerged as a bustling shipping port. Mariners, threading their way through the narrow passage between Nayatt Point and a sprawling shoal extending from Conimicut Point, yearned for a guiding light to ensure safe passage. Responding to their call, on May 23, 1828, the government secured land on Nayatt Point and allocated $3,500 for the construction of a lighthouse.

However, the procurement process, dictated by the requirement to select the lowest bidder, ultimately cast a shadow over Nayatt Point Lighthouse and several others. The original lighthouse, completed in 1828, soon exhibited signs of deterioration. Its wooden spiral staircase proved narrow and challenging to navigate, while the lantern room appeared designed for keepers of unusually diminutive stature. The seawall, shielding the lighthouse, barely survived a fierce winter storm in 1855, causing structural damage and extensive cracks throughout the tower.

A New Beginning

A professional analysis delivered disheartening news: Nayatt Point Lighthouse was beyond repair. Consequently, a new tower was constructed 65 feet northeast of the original structure and illuminated the night on December 25, 1856. This resplendent, square lighthouse, crafted from brick, rose to a height of 25 feet (with a focal height of 31 feet) and was adorned in brilliant white. The construction costs amounted to $6,500.

This new lighthouse boasted a fourth-order Fresnel lens, yet its height was deemed insufficient for optimal effectiveness. Congress stepped in, allocating funds in 1860 for the construction of a round granite tower on the sandbar extending from Conimicut Point in Warwick. Originally intended as a daymark, the decision was made to enhance its functionality with a light. On November 1, 1868, the Fresnel lens from Nayatt Point Lighthouse found its new home at Conimicut Point Lighthouse, leading to the deactivation of Nayatt Point's beacon.

A Tale of Keepers and Canine Heroism

In the ensuing years, the original keeper's house on Nayatt Point became the dwelling of Conimicut Point's keepers until 1873, when a new residence was erected on the adjacent wharf at Conimicut Lighthouse. The house on Nayatt Point was retained, however, as a wise precaution. In March 1875, an onslaught of floating ice wreaked havoc on the Providence River, destroying the keeper's residence at Conimicut Lighthouse. The keepers were once again relocated to the house on Nayatt Point.

Private Ownership and Literary Legacy

In 1890, Nayatt Point Lighthouse was sold at auction to Charles H. Merriman for $4,000. Over the years, the property changed hands and underwent modifications and expansions while preserving its lighthouse tower.

In 1983, Barbara and Leonard Lesko acquired Nayatt Point Lighthouse. Leonard, who served as the chair of Brown University's Department of Egyptology, and Barbara, both published authors, embarked on a unique journey chronicling their experiences of living at Nayatt Point Lighthouse. Their book, "Lighthouse Life," delved into the challenges and joys of restoring and maintaining the historic property. The property went on the market in 1997 for $1.275 million and was eventually sold in 2001. It later sold in August 2015 for $1.6 million. As of 2023, the lighthouse property is valued at over $2.5 million.

A Treasured Heritage

The inclusion of Nayatt Point Lighthouse on the National Register of Historic Places on February 25, 1988, marks its status as an enduring symbol of maritime heritage. With the National Park Service assigning it reference number 87001694, this recognition underscores its historical significance.

While Nayatt Point Lighthouse remains a private residence and is not open to the public, its splendor can be admired from the water. Visitors seeking a view of this historic landmark can also find vantage points across the river at Conimicut Point Park. A fourth-order lens from a lightship currently graces the tower, serving as an unofficial light, a poignant reminder of the lighthouse's past and enduring legacy.

Location Features

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55D Nayatt Road, Barrington, Rhode Island

GPS Coordinates:
41.725168, -71.338928
Directions to location:
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Directions to parking area:
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Parking Notes:
The lighthouse is on private property. It can be viewed from Nayatt Rd, but you cannot park anywhere on the road. Most visitors actually park at Conimicut Point Park in Warwick and look across the Providence River to see the lighthouse. Parking is free and ample at Conimicut Point Park.


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