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Sandy Hook Lighthouse – a National Historic Landmark

January 4, 2011

(The first in an ongoing series of stories spotlighting the 55 National Historic Landmarks in New Jersey.  From Salem and Cape May to the Palisades and Ringwood, these historic places of national significance help to tell the story of New Jersey and its people.  Out of more than 80,000 places across the country on the National Register of Historic Places, only about 2,430 are NHLs.  Tell us your stories about New Jersey’s National Landmarks: your first time to visit, or an interesting anecdote.  And send us your pictures or video, too!  Let us include your stories with ours.  Thanks to author of this post, Peter Primavera.)

Sandy Hook Lighthouse

Part of the Sandy Hook Proving Ground and Fort Hancock District, itself  a National Historic Landmark that will be covered in a future posting, the Lighthouse was designated an NHL on Jan. 29, 1964.

Sandy Hook Light is the oldest standing light tower in the United States. Since 1764 the beam from this 85-foot tall white tower has guided innumerable vessels through New York harbor. In 1997 the Lighthouse was transferred from the U.S. Coast Guard to the National Park Service. The Light, itself, with its 3rd order Fresnel lens, remains an active aid to navigation administered by the Coast Guard.

The Sandy Hook Light was dimmed in World War II and painted in camouflage. Homes and businesses that were within five miles of the ocean were required to use blackout curtains in order to protect ships from U-Boat attacks.

The Lighthouse was rehabilitated in 2000 and is now open to the public for tours led by volunteers from the NJ Lighthouse Society. The 1873 Sandy Hook Lighthouse Keepers Quarters is now under adaptive rehabilitation funded by the Sandy Hook Foundation, the park’s official Friends Group. A Historic Structures Report, completed in 2001, guides the work. When complete, the Keepers Quarters will include offices for the Sandy Hook Foundation and NJ Lighthouse Society and will be a visitor station for Lighthouse tours and feature exhibits on NJ Lighthouses.

The Future for the Lighthouse

As part of the grounds of the Fort Hancock & Sandy Hook Proving Grounds District, it is clear that the Lighthouse  is endangered. The lighthouse is better cared for than almost everything else in the Fort Hancock district, but the constant lack of funding, under use, and stalled plans for any reasonable reuse of the Fort Hancock Buildings remains a huge problem.

Little known Sandy Hook fact

The restaurant on Sandy Hook called the Sea Gull’s Nest actually got it’s name from the owner, Ed Siegel!  And they close every night with everyone in the place singing “God Bless America” at the top of their lungs.

To learn more:

National Park Service (NPS), Sandy Hook Lighthouse

Visitor’s information

PNJ’s listing as one of the 10 Most Endangered Historic Places in New Jersey

Contact:  NPS at Sandy Hook, (732) 872-5970

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