Block Island Southeast Light

New Shoreham, Rhode Island | C.1875

Photo Credit: Alex Weber

Block Island Southeast Light is a lighthouse located on Mohegan Bluffs at the southeastern corner of Block Island, Rhode Island. It was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1997 as one of the most architecturally sophisticated lighthouses built in the United States in the 19th century.

Although Congress appropriated $9,000 to build this light in 1856, the funds were used to build a new Block Island North Light after the old one was washed away in a storm. This light was finally built in 1874, with the lamp first lit on February 1, 1875. It is a sophisticated expression of the Gothic Revival executed in brick, and was a marked contrast to earlier lighthouses, which were generally more functional in appearance.

The main tower is 67 feet (20 m) in height, with an octagonal granite foundation and brick exterior, which rises to a cast iron parapet and open gallery around the lantern chamber. This is topped by a sixteen-sided pyramidal copper roof with a ball ventilator and lightning rod. The original roof was cast iron, and was replaced in 1994.

In 1990, the Coast Guard deactivated the light and replaced it with a nearby steel tower. Because of ongoing erosion of the bluffs, in 1993 the entire 2,000 ton structure was moved about 300 feet (91 m) back from the cliffs. Ownership of the lighthouse was transferred in 1992 to the Southeast Lighthouse Foundation, which is dedicated to its preservation.

The light was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1997. The latter designation was made in recognition of the light’s historic importance as an aid to navigation, and for its sophisticated architecture, which was only matched by the Cleveland Light, which was demolished in the early 20th century.

Know more? Share with us!

Partner

Log in

Need an account? Sign up

Sign up

Already have an account? Log In

Enter your email to reset your password

Enter your new password