North Lighthouse, Block Island

Block Island, located in the Atlantic Ocean, is part of Rhode Island and is a portion of the glacial terminal moraine. It is listed by the Nature Conservancy as one of the twelve “Last Great Places” in the Western Hemisphere. New Shoreham is the sole town on Block Island, which is a well-known summer destination for tourists all over the world. There are two popular historic lighthouses on the island. They are the Block Island Southeast Light and the Block Island North Light. The first was built in 1875 on the southeast side of Block Island. The other was built in 1829 on the northern part of the island.

The Block Island North Lighthouse that stands today, however, was preceded by Sandy Point Light. Sandy Point Light, built-in 1829, was the first lighthouse on the island. In 1867, the fourth lighthouse was constructed in Sandy Point Light’s place. This was named the Block Island North Lighthouse. The Block Island North Lighthouse was built to at the entrance of Block Island Sound. Apart from making the entrance easier to find, the Lighthouse also warns ships away from the perilous Sandy Point. The Block Island North Lighthouse was built with granite. Its Victorian-Italian inspired architecture gave made it reminiscent of the old schools. The design of the structure is similar to that of Morgan Point Lighthouse in Connecticut; the Sheffield Island Lighthouse also in Connecticut; and New York’s Plum Island Lighthouse.

The Block Island North Lighthouse is fifty-five feet high. During the early times, the lighthouse was equipped with a fourth-order Fresnel lens and an oil lamp that produced white light. In1907, the old-fashioned lamp was replaced with a more modern incandescent oil vapor lamp that highly improved the light output. Later, it was again replaced with a flashing white light, which began operating on electricity during the 1940s. In 1956, the light was automated.

The use of the lighthouse ceased from 1983 to 1989. During that time, an offshore skeleton tower was activated. The Block Island North Lighthouse was acquired by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Along with almost thirty acres of land, it was turned into a sanctuary for wildlife. In 1984, the lighthouse was purchased by the town of New Shoreham, which received a four hundred thousand dollar grant for the restoration of Block Island North Lighthouse. The light from the skeleton tower was returned to the lighthouse, and it was relit during the fifth day of August in the year 1989. The ground floor of the lighthouse functions as a museum. It features the historic DCB-24 Aerobeacon lamp and the fourth-order Fresnel lens which was used when the lighthouse first began operating.