POINT LOOKOUT LIGHTHOUSE
The Point Lookout Lighthouse is one of only twenty-five light stations remaining on the Chesapeake Bay. Built in 1830, the integral dwelling house and tower provided a beacon for travelers of the middle Chesapeake Bay until the light as deactivated in 1965. Alterations to the lighthouse in 1883 and in 1927 – 1928 reflect the changing needs of the U. S. Lighthouse Service and have their own inherent significance.
The Point Lookout Light Station is one of the few light stations that remain on the Bay, and its associated buoy depot buildings are among the few to survive in the United States. The Point Lookout Lighthouse was built in 1830 by John Donohoo, and is a combined dwelling and signal light. It was originally built as a one and one half-story building with a light tower to raise the focal plane of the light to twenty-four feet above the ground.
In 1883, the roof was raised to two full stories, elevating the focal plane to thirty-six feet. Between 1927 and 1928, the Lighthouse Service converted the single-dwelling lighthouse to a duplex, leaving little of the 1830 and 1883 structures intact. Today the lighthouse is a two-story, four-bay, triple-pile duplex, with a raised basement and full-width front and rear porch. The brick-and-frame walls are covered with stucco. The two-stage octagonal tower projects through the hip roof on the front (east) of the building. Each duplex apartment has an entrance to the base of the tower, which contains a stair and ladder that lead to the wrought-iron lantern.
The Point Lookout Lighthouse is significant because of its association with maritime history in the Chesapeake Bay region and is therefore eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. From 1830 until its deactivation in 1965, the Point Lookout Lighthouse was a testament to the U.S. Lighthouse Service’s history and its continuing efforts to improve lighthouse technology.
The Point Lookout Lighthouse, situated at the extreme southern tip of Maryland’s Western Shore in St. Mary’s County, is also historically significant to the local and regional community. During the Civil War, both a hospital (U.S. General Hammond Hospital, Point Lookout) and a Federal Prisoner of War Camp for Confederates (Camp Hoffman) were located near the lighthouse. There is a great deal of local legend associated with the lighthouse. Numerous stories have been ensconced within the folklore of St. Mary’s County.
The lighthouse currently has been under the care of Point Lookout State Park and the non-profit friends group, Point Lookout Lighthouse Preservation Society, since 2006. For information regarding the lighthouse and the preservation society, go to www.pointlookoutlighthouse.com or www.pllps.org. Though now deactivated, the lighthouse is still a significant landmark for both watermen and recreational boaters plying the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.
Point Lookout Lighthouse Postcard
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