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The Edgartown Harbor Lighthouse Station was established in 1828 with a two and a half story combination Keeper's House with a Lantern on the roof. This buiding was severly damaged by the infamous "Long Island Express", the 1938 hurricane that devastated the Long Island and New England coasts. The U.S. Coast Guard intended to replace the light with a skeletal steel tower but ceded to local requests for a lighthouse building. In an example of government recycling, the main (rear) light from the Ipswich Range Lights was barged from northern Massachussetts and installed as the new Edgartown Harbor Lighthouse. Some records show this cast iron tower was built in 1875 however it was not installed in Ipswich until 1881 when it replaced the original rear range light on the Castle Neck penninsula's Crane beach on the south side of the Ipswich Harbor approach. The Ipswich front range light was retired in 1932 and the rear range light was then automated. The rear range light was then discontinued and replaced with a skeletal steel tower in 1938. The former Ipswich Rear Range - existing Edgartown Harbor Light was installed in 1939 equipped with a 4th order Fresnel lens and automated.
The Edgartown Harbor Lighthouse continues to be an active aid to navigation. The white 45 foot tall tower is built from cast iron plates lined with brick. The Coast Guard maintains the solar powered 250 MM modern optic displaying a red flash every 6 seconds visible for 5 nautical miles. The Martha's Vineyard Historical Society was granted stewardship in 1994 and maintains the structure. The tower has been vandalized several times and the damaged windows were covered with plywood, painted to appear as windows. The tower is not open to the public but the grounds and children's memorial are easily accesed.
July, 2004 Issue, Edgartown Lighthouse Now Serves As A Children’s Memorial, By Jeremy D'Entremont. Dedicated July 14, 2001, the new base for the refurbished Edgartown Harbor lighthouse contains 3,500 granite cobblestones, most designed to hold a child's name. The Martha's Vineyard Historical Society acting on a greiving father's suggestion raised $75,000 to rebuild the lighthouses' weather damaged base as a children's memorial. Please go to the Lighthouse Digest Magazine Archives to read this article. Lighthouse Digest magazine not only keeps the history of our lighthouses alive both in print and on line, but it is the best single source to keep current on all aspects of lighthouse preservation, news and events.
The Edgartown Harbor Lighthouse grounds are open to the public. Sunset tours of the tower are held on Sundays between mid June and mid September.The tours start 1.5 hours before sunset and continue another .5 hour after sunset. The tour fee is $3.00 per person with proceeds going to maintenance of the three Martha's Vineyard lighthouses maintained by the Historical Society (East Chop, Edgartown Harbor and Gay Head).
Directions: Martha's Vineyard Island is accesible by both air plane and ferry. From the Vineyard Haven ferry dock, turn south on Water Street to a right turn on Beach Road. Turn left on State Rd and left again onto Edgartown Rd. Continue on Edgartown Rd as it becomes Edgartown Vineyard Haven Rd, Vineyard Haven Rd, Upper Main St, and then Main St in Edgartown. A left turn onto N. Water St will bring you out to the waterfront and the Edgartown Harbor Lighthouse will be on your right.
Martha's Vineyard Historical Society -Please visit the Museum's web site for Sunset Tours and other information and area attractions when visiting the Edgartown Harbor Lighthouse. The historical society also has stewardship of the East Chop and Gay Head Lighthouses.
Please visit the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce website for more information and attractions when visiting Martha's Vineyard.
For more photographs and history of the Edgartown Harbor Lighthouse, you can visit the: