Light Hearted

Light Hearted ep 38 – Scott Brown, Sakonnet Point Lighthouse, Rhode Island

Sakonnet Point Lighthouse under restoration; photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.

Featured in this episode of Light Hearted is an interview with Scott Brown, president of Friends of Sakonnet Lighthouse. In 1882, Congress appropriated $20,000 for a lighthouse on Little Cormorant Rock at the entrance to Rhode Island’s Sakonnet River, near Little Compton. Sakonnet Point Lighthouse is a typical offshore “sparkplug” lighthouse of its period. The hurricanes of 1938 and 1954 damaged the structure, and the last Coast Guard keepers were removed.  Coast Guard officials decided to discontinue the light.

Restoration project Foreman Russ Klein (L) and Friends of Sakonnet Lighthouse President Scott Brown (R). Courtesy Friends of Sakonnet Lighthouse.
Before restoration. (Friends of Sakonnet Lighthouse)

The General Services Administration sold the property at auction in September 1961. A preservation effort began when the Friends of Sakonnet Lighthouse was formed in 1984.

With funding from the federal Transportation Enhancement Program combined with privately raised funds, a thorough restoration was completed in 2012.

The restored lighthouse. Courtesy Friends of Sakonnet Lighthouse.

Also in this episode, hosts Jeremy D’Entremont and Cindy Johnson detail the dramatic story of what happened at Sakonnet in the hurricane of September 21, 1938–the worst hurricane in recorded New England history. Keeper William Durfee, one of two men trapped in the lighthouse during the storm, wrote, “We gave up and wrapped ourselves in blankets . . . wondering when the wind would shift and quiet the sea down so we could get outside to look around. . . . And we were surprised when we looked to the point and saw that everything had been washed away.”

Sakonnet Point Lighthouse in 1944 (U.S. Coast Guard)

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