Rose Island Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse located in Narragansett Bay in Newport, Rhode Island. The lighthouse was first activated in 1870 and is currently maintained and operated by The Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation.
Because of its strategic location at the mouth of Newport Harbor, the military made use of Rose Island in the past. Both British and colonial troops used the island to defend Newport at various periods during the Revolutionary War. Fort Hamilton, a military fort on the island, was built from 1798 to 1800 but never fully completed. Part of the island was utilized as a rifle range in 1889, while the US Navy’s torpedo manufacturing plant in nearby Newport used it for explosive storage during World Wars I and II.
The current wood-framed lighthouse on the island was built in 1869 with funds provided by Congress. The lighthouse was designed by Vermont architect Albert Dow, who won an award for his work. Sabin Point, Pomham Rocks, Esopus Meadows Light, and Colchester Reef are all sister lights to Rose Island Light. Rose Island Lighthouse was first lit on January 20, 1870.
When the Newport Bridge was built nearby in 1970, the lighthouse was decommissioned as a working lighthouse. The lighthouse and accompanying 1.5 acres were given to the University of Rhode Island for maritime research in 1976, but the university was unable to maintain the property. Eventually, the old and highly vandalized lighthouse was returned to the federal government.
The Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation was established in 1984 to rehabilitate the deteriorating lighthouse on behalf of the City of Newport, which had obtained it free of charge from the US government. In 1990, the lighthouse had a total makeover, including new wiring, plumbing, and plaster walls, as well as an energy-efficient in-floor radiant heating system. There was also a septic field, a water cistern, and a landing dock built. The renovation cost more than a million dollars in total. The lighthouse was added on the National Register of Historic Places by the federal government in 1987. It was re-lit as a private navigational aid in 1992. The Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation bought the rest of the island in 1999.
The lighthouse is now a tourist attraction that can only be reached by boat. Visitors can spend a night as a guest or a week as the “lighthouse keeper” for a charge to the Foundation. The lighthouse can be seen from a number of spots on the mainland, including Goat Island in Newport.
Do you love lighthouses? Be sure to check out the 18 Best Rhode Island Lighthouses To Visit And Photograph. Also, you can find more great spots to explore in Rhode Island by visiting goxplr.com/map/rhode-island!
- Originally constructed: 1870
- First lit: 1870
- Construction: Wood
- Tower shape: Octagonal
- Height: 35 feet (11 m)
- Focal height: 48 feet (15 m)
- Markings: White tower on dwelling
- Characteristic: Flashing white light every 6 seconds (Fl W 6s), private aid
- Range: N/A
- Status: Active – Private Aid
- NRHP number: 87000033
- Address: Rose Island
- Town: Newport
- State: Rhode Island
- GPS: Lat 41.49565 Lng -71.34272
- Parking notes: Daily visits to Rose Island are available using the Jamestown Newport Ferry from May to October. Kayaks, canoes, and small private boats are allowed; however, they must be beached at the lighthouse beach or anchored. There is no available dock space. To view the lighthouse from the mainland, Goat Island is a great location with plenty of free parking!
- Parking directions: HERE
- Location directions: HERE
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