CONCORD POINT LIGHTHOUSE
One of the most interesting and unique historic structures in Havre de Grace is the Concord Point Lighthouse. It has served as a beacon for sailors and boaters in the Upper Chesapeake Bay for over 160 years. It is the oldest continuously operated lighthouse in the State of Maryland.
In 1826 the Maryland General Assembly authorized the construction of the tower at the point where the Susquehanna River meets the tidal flow of the Chesapeake Bay. Navigation was very hazardous, the area originally known as Point Conquest.
John Donohoo, a local contractor, was the designated builder and built may other lighthouses around the bay.
The lighthouse is constructed of Port Deposit granite. The walls are 3’1” thick at the base and narrow to 18” at the parapet. Total height is approximately 36 feet.
Originally illuminated by 9 whale oil lamps with tin reflectors, the tower was lit with a center post light and Fresnel lens (6th Order) in 1854. This was changed to a 5th order size some years later and maintains such a lens today, on loan from the St. Michael’s Maritime Museum. Electrification came in 1920. Polygonal in shape, the lens is 36” high with a diameter of 14”.
Click image at left to view larger photo. (Opens in new window).
The first lighthouse keeper was an Irish immigrant, John O’Neill (1768-1836), coming to Havre de Grace in 1786. He rose to
prominence during an attack by British forces at this site. One of the old artillery pieces can be seen on the water side of the lighthouse. While firing one of the three Potato Cannons, he was injured and sentenced to be hung, but through intervention of his daughter Matilda, Admiral Cockburn later released him. He served as lighthouse keeper and town commissioner until his death.
While many people served as keepers, at least one member of each generation of the O’Neill family kept the light while it was manually illuminated. Known keepers include:
John O’Neill 1829 Esther O’Neill 1863
John O’Neill Jr 1838 John Bartol 1870
John B. Harvey 1841 Gabriel Evans 1870
Thomas Courtney 1844 John Bartell 1880
John Blaney 1849 Henry O’Neill 1881
Thomas Suter 1853 Henry O’Neill 1919
John O’Neill 1860
The lighthouse keeper’s home was a separate building, a stone house located directly across the street. It is in the process of restoration under the direction of the Maryland Historical Trust.
Be;ow is text copied from the sign above, right.
The house and property were sold by the U.S. Government to private owners in April 1920 as the light had been automated and a resident keeper was no longer necessary. The house was a residential rental property until the mid 1930’s when it was converted into a restaurant. A long outbuilding to the south became a bar and dance hall. The property changed hands nine times between 1920 and 1988 when it was purchased by the Maryland Historic Trust and deeded to the City of Havre de Grace. From 1920 to 1988 the property underwent many renovations and additions until it appears as it does in the photograph at the left. The Friends of the Concord Point Light House, Inc., began the restoration of the light keepers’ house and property in 1990.
In 1914, one of the
remaining cannons of the Potato Battery was placed land side of the lighthouse
during a rededication ceremony. By
1924 the area was seriously blighted and the cannon was moved to Tydings Park
but later returned to its historic site following restoration of Concord Point
Lighthouse in 1979.
In 1914, one of the remaining cannons of the Potato Battery was placed land side of the lighthouse during a rededication ceremony. By 1924 the area was seriously blighted and the cannon was moved to Tydings Park but later returned to its historic site following restoration of Concord Point Lighthouse in 1979.
The Lighthouse was decommissioned by the Coast Guard in 1975 and given to the City of Havre de Grace for safe keeping. Soon after, a group of citizens incorporated as “The Friends of Concord Point Lighthouse, Inc.” and were specifically charged with the care of keeping of the historic structure.
Upon completion of the keeper’s home, stable, oil shed, etc., the Concord Point Lighthouse will present a unique maritime display of the life and activities of the courageous lighthouse keepers of the 19th century.
Concord Point Lighthouse is open free to the public. Educational school tours are conducted each year by special arrangement. Contributions are gratefully received to maintain the building and to tell its story.
Friends of Concord Point Lighthouse
PO Box 212
Havre de Grace, MD 21078
Return to the Maryland Lighthouse Page
Return to the: Alphabetical Listing or the Listing by States