Newburyport Harbor Rear Range Lighthouse

Newburyport, Massachusetts
Built in 1873, Newburyport Harbor Rear Range Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse located along Water Street in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
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About This Location

The Newburyport Harbor Rear Range Lighthouse, nestled in Newburyport, Massachusetts, holds a storied history as one half of a guiding pair of range lights built in 1873 to aid mariners navigating the Merrimack River to the city’s harbor. These range lights, also known as leading lights, consisted of two beacons at different heights and distances, aligning to provide a crucial bearing for safe passage. The front light, initially equipped with a fixed red light, was located on an iron tower on Bayley’s new wharf, while the rear light, featuring a fixed green light, stood tall on a pyramidal brick tower nearby. Both lights were integral in ensuring the safe arrival of vessels to the bustling port of Newburyport. The role of the Newburyport Harbor Rear Range Lighthouse, along with its counterpart, was pivotal in guiding maritime traffic up the Merrimack River.

While the establishment of the lighthouse focused primarily on the beacon towers themselves, no lighthouse keepers’ dwellings were associated with these range lights. Initially, local caretakers were responsible for their maintenance. Over the years, the lighthouse saw modifications, including the heightening of the front light’s beacon, which involved placing a wooden tower on top of the iron structure. In 1907, the rear light’s beacon changed from green to red.

The Newburyport Harbor Rear Range Lighthouse, like many other lighthouses, had dedicated keepers who tended to its operation. George Stickney, the first keeper, played a significant role in ensuring the lights’ functionality from 1873 until 1886, followed by keepers like Matthew F. Barrett and Bernard Barrett. Their diligence ensured that mariners could rely on the guiding lights for safe navigation.

Although the Newburyport Harbor Rear Range Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1961, the rear range light became private property. In 1987, the lighthouse, along with its companion, the Newburyport Harbor Front Range Light, earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the rear range light serves as a unique venue, available for rent for events, offering visitors stunning views of the river and city from its lantern room. It stands as a testament to Newburyport’s rich maritime heritage and is maintained with the support of lighthouse preservation efforts and fundraising initiatives, such as elevated dining experiences atop the tower, which have generated substantial funds for its upkeep and ongoing preservation.

Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse located right along Water Street in downtown Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Lighthouse Specs

  • Year Constructed: 1873
  • First Lit: 1873
  • Construction: Brick
  • Tower Shape: Pyramidal
  • Height: 32 feet
  • Focal Height: 47 feet
  • Markings: Natural brick tower with black lantern
  • Characteristic: Fixed green light
  • Range: N/A
  • Status: Deactivated
  • NRHP Number: 87000887

Location

Address: 61½ Water Street, Newburyport, Massachusetts
Place GPS Coordinates: 42.811250, -70.866056
Parking GPS Coordinates: 42.811250, -70.866056
Parking Notes: Parking is available right in front of the lighthouse along Water Street.

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