Saved Before the Storm

Looking Back Great Point Lens Lead Image

The 1857 Great Point Lens

The first lighthouse on Great Point was built by the Commonwealth in 1784. It was one of seven lighthouses that Massachusetts turned over to the United States Government between 1790 and 1795. The original wood structure burned in 1816, and by 1818 was replaced by a brick-lined stone lighthouse. An inspection report of 1838 stated that the lighthouse had 14 lamps with what were likely parabolic reflectors, which provided a rather dim illumination. The third-order Fresnel lens was manufactured by Sautter et Cie of France and was installed in 1857. In 1971 it was replaced with a modern lamp. Today it is operated with a solar-powered VRB-25 aerobeacon.

The current Great Point Lighthouse is replica of the 1818 structure. It was built in 1986 following the lighthouse's collapse during a storm in 1984. After that storm, Museum founder, Bob Caldwell, went out to Great Point to salvage and recover any pieces he could, which included the original 1818 roof cap that he rescued from the surf with a piece of "yellow gear" maritime equipment. It was not until years later in 2001 that the original 1857 lens and 1818 roof cap would be reunited and exhibited together in front of the Museum when a replica lantern was installed to house and display them both in perpetuity. From spring, when the protective winter cover is removed, visitors to the Museum grounds may enjoy a thrilling bird's eye view of the Fresnel lens which once stood atop the original 60-foot Great Point Lighthouse.

Looking Back August 2018