|Authorization by Congress
-- $20,000 approved on March 2, 1889, for establishment of a
a lighthouse in the vicinity of Squan Inlet. It would be the
last live in lighthouse to be built on the Atlantic Coast.
Site Chosen -- Sea Girt at Wreck Pond, deed
dated July 29, 1895, 100 by 100 foot lot. 19 miles south of
Navesink Twin Lights and 26 miles north of Barnegat Light.
Commissioned -- Completed in 1896, the lighthouse
was commissioned and the beacon turned on December 10, 1896.
Named -- The lighthouse was first, incorrectly,
called Squan Inlet Lighthouse until changed to Sea Girt Lighthouse
March 1, 1897.
The Light -- Illumination was provided by
a fourth order Fresnel lens. The lens focused the light from
a kerosene lamp to a beam that could be seen 15 miles at sea.
Initially the light flashed a red signal once every six seconds.
In May 1912 the light source was changed from a kerosene wick
lamp to a 35MM. incandescent oil vapor lamp. The light color
was changed to white and one flash every second to produce
a brighter, more distinctive light.
Electrified -- In November 1924, the light
was changed to a 300 watt PS 35 lamp with C-7 filament which
increased the candlepower from 11,000 to 100,000.
Radio Beacon -- During World War I there
was research done on radio beacons and the radio compass as
aids to navigation. In May of 1921, radio beacons were installed
on the Sea Girt Lighthouse, Ambrose Lightship and Fire Island
Lighthouse. These were the first installed in the United States.
Each station had a unique signal which could be heard for
up to 300 miles, even in foul weather. It enables vessels
approaching or leaving New York to locate themselves by cross
- 1896 to 1903 -- Major Wolfe, a retired army
officer, described as a "convivial soul" by Bill
Lake, a later keeper.
- 1903 to 1910 -- Abram Yates, whose wife Harriet
recorded the death of her husband on May 29, 1910. Despite
her grief she assumed the duties of the lighthouse keeper
for two months.
- 1910 to 1917 -- John W. Hawkey, a 38 year
veteran of the Lighthouse Service, served until his death.
- 1917 to 1931 -- William H. Lake, the first
of the "modern era" keepers, moved
into the lighthouse with his wife and young son, Elvin.
They became a part of the growing community. Mrs. Lake served
several years as Sea Girt's first councilwoman, was a charter
member of the Sea Girt Women's Club and maintained a real
estate business. Elvin worked several summers as a lifeguard
and later served on the borough council as well as the Sea
Girt Fire Company. He died in 1984.
- 1931 to 1941 -- George Thomas, the last keeper
of the lighthouse, had served at the Fire Island Lighthouse
as well as Shinnecock Light. He and his wife Minnie raised
two daughters, Lucy and Alice. They donated memorabilia
and accounts of childhood experiences to lighthouses in
which they had lived.
In 1941 or 1942 the Sea Girt Light was shut down and the Fresnel
lens removed. Keeper Thomas retired in March of 1941.
The Lighthouse became a Coast Guard Beach Patrol
Station. Up to twenty enlisted men and two officers were stationed
in the Lighthouse. To make room for these men the wall and
fireplaces were removed between the kitchen and dining room
as was the wall between the two bedrooms on the north side.
At the end of the War a new light was installed.
This was similar to an airport beacon and was mounted on top
of the lantern room. It was totally automatic.
In 1955 the Coast Guard moved the light to a
tower on the west lawn of the Lighthouse.
This Sea Girt Light continued in service under
Coast Guard management until 1977. When announcement was made
of the intention to shut down the light in June of that year,
Mayor Black proposed to move the light into the lantern room
where the original light had been. It took five years to do
so. Through the efforts of Mayor MacInnes, the tower light
was obtained from the Coast Guard and installed in the lantern
room in 1982.
OWNERSHIP OF THE SEA GIRT LIGHTHOUSE
On August 10, 1956, the Lighthouse was sold to the Borough
of Sea Girt for $11,000. For over twenty years the building
was used for various civic activities including the civil
defense council, the Sea Girt Library, the children's Recreation
Committee events, and meeting place for many local clubs or
Weather, time and heavy use brought the Lighthouse
to serious disrepair. The 1980 Borough Council considered
sale of the property rather than costly repair.
Concerned citizens rallied to save the only
historic building in Sea Girt. In August 1981, the Sea Girt
Lighthouse Citizens Committee Inc. was formed and signed a
25 year lease for the building at $1 per year. That lease
has been extended to the year 2056. Over 15 community organizations
have regularly supported the restoration. Over 400 individual
members have contributed to the project. Friends from other
towns have helped. Many have bequeathed generous sums to save
the lighthouse. Visitors help with their donations.
We could say that the new, restored Lighthouse
now is owned by all who cared to save it.
thanks to Lone Keep Internet)