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Named in honor of Captain Daniel Patrick of the New Haven Colony who before his death in 1643 acquired the region now known as Old Greenwich from local Indians, Great Captain Island sits a little over a mile from Greenwich, Ct. in the Long Island Sound. Its location near the main shipping channel also puts it close to the New York State border and ownership remained in dispute until 1880 when a commission ruled in favor of Connecticut. The original light station consisted of a 5 room keeper's cottage and a 30 foot rough stone tower exhibiting 10 Winslow Lewis lamps with 14.5 inch parabolic reflectors in 1829. The lantern was replaced and upgraded with a 4th order Fresnel lens in 1858. Using a variation of the design plans from the Block Island North lighthouse, the existing lighthouse was placed in service in 1868 using the Fresnel lens from the original tower. A coal fired steam power fog whistle was installed in 1890 and upgraded with two 13 horsepower oil engines and a new fog horn on June 10, 1905. Various repairs and adjustments were necessary before the local residents were able to sleep through a foggy night again. The U.S. Coast Guard deactivated and abandoned the station January 30, 1970 and in the following 3 years it was severely vandalized. The Town of Greenwich now owns Great Captain Island and has placed a caretaker in the old lighthouse to protect it against further vandalism.
The Great Captain Island Lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Local efforts are underway to refurbish and relight the lighthouse.
December 2006 Issue,Keeper's Korner By Timothy Harrison. "Great Captain Island Lighthouse in Greenwich, CT needs an estimated $1.2 million in improvements before town officials will open the lighthouse to the public, something they have been promising to do for more years than anyone can remember. A private group called "Return the Light" has raised $250,000 to return the beacon to the tower..." 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 Great Captain Island Lighthouse cannot be seen from the main land and is best viewed from private boat. Access to Great Captain Island is only available to Greenwich residents and their guests. The lighthouse is not open to the public but the surrounding grounds are maintained as a conservatiion area with hiking trails.
Directions: During the summer months, there is a Ferry Service from the landing at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park off Arch Street in central Greenwich. Parking is available across Arch Street.
Please visit the Greenwich Town Parks and Recreation web page for Great Captain Island access info and summer ferry schedule for Greenwich residents and their guests.
For more photographs and history of the Great Captain Island Lighthouse, you can visit the: