Sakonnet Light is a beautiful sparkplug lighthouse located off Sakonnet Point in Little Compton, Rhode Island. The historic lighthouse was built in 1884.
As early as 1852, the need for a navigational aid in the area was recognized. The lower Sakonnet River was an excellent safe haven harbor for vessels, and it would be easy to access if a light were placed near West Island. In March 1882, George Brown of the United States Navy, inspector for the Lighthouse Board’s Third District, wrote a letter to Congress requesting the lighthouse. The lighthouse was quickly funded by Congress, who appropriated $20,000 for it.
Construction was challenging and time-consuming due to the rugged, exposed terrain. The base, a cement cast-iron caisson, was finished in 1883, but progress was slowed by severe weather late in the season. The lighthouse became operational on November 1, 1884, after work continued for the majority of the following year. A white light with intermittent red flashes was generated by the lighthouse’s revolving fourth-order Fresnel lens.
The 4 story cast-iron tower has a base diameter of 22 feet and a fourth-level diameter of 12 feet. A cylindrical watch room and a 10-sided cast-iron lantern crown it. The caisson and tower are 66 feet tall combined, and the light shines from 70 feet above the water. The keepers lived inside the tower on the first floor.
Following substantial damage caused by Hurricane Carol in 1954, the Coast Guard decided to decommission and abandon Sakonnet Point Light. The majority of the fourth-order lens is now housed at the Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland, ME, with a small section held by the Little Compton Historical Society. Local residents protested the lighthouse’s closure, and Carl Haffenreffer, president of Narragansett Brewing, eventually purchased it at auction for $1,111.11 in 1961. “I was afraid someone was going to paint it pink or haul it away for scrap,” he said during the purchase. The Haffenreffer family kept the lighthouse and hired painters. But eventually, the family found that the upkeep was going to be extremely costly. The structure was donated to the Friends of Sakonnet Point Lighthouse, Inc. in 1985.
The United States Coast Guard reactivated the lighthouse in 1997. In 2012, a $1.45 million restoration of the lighthouse was completed. The Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission honored the Friends of the Sakonnet Light with the Rhody Award in 2012. The lighthouse can be best viewed by boat or from Lloyd’s Beach in Little Compton.
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!
- Constructed: 1884
- First lit: 1884
- Construction: Cast iron with brick lining
- Tower shape: Conical tower on a cylindrical base
- Height: 58 feet (18 m)
- Focal height: 66 feet (20 m)
- Markings: White on a black base
- Characteristic: Flashing white, 6 seconds red sector
- Range: White sector 7 nautical miles (13 km; 8.1 mi) & red 5 nautical miles (9.3 km; 5.8 mi)
- Status: Active
- NRHP number: 83000179
- Address: Sakonnet Light
- Town: Little Compton
- State: Rhode Island
- GPS: Lat 41.45324 Lng -71.20247
- Parking notes: The lighthouse can be best viewed from Lloyd’s Beach in Little Compton. There is no parking directly at the beach. Instead, you should park on Bluff Head Ave in front of the Sakonnet Point Marina and walk down Rhode Island Rd to the beach.
- Parking directions: HERE
- Location directions: HERE