Light Hearted

Light Hearted ep 42 – Nancy Patterson, East Point Lighthouse, New Jersey

East Point Lighthouse, U.S. Lighthouse Society archive

East Point Lighthouse began service in September 1849. It’s a type of building known as a Cape Cod-style lighthouse, because a number of them were build on Cape Cod in the early 1800s. It consists of a lantern on the roof of a two-story keeper’s dwelling. The light was automated in 1911 with the use of an acetylene gas system. The light was darkened due to World War II, and it was subsequently discontinued. Then, in the 1950s, the property was transferred to the State of New Jersey. The building was boarded up and fell into disrepair.

The Maurice River Historical Society was working to save the lighthouse when an accidental fire started by trespassers nearly destroyed the building in July 1971. The historical society was able to raise funds to have the lantern and roof rebuilt and the Coast Guard relighted the lighthouse as a navigational aid on July 2, 1980. Five rooms in the restored lighthouse are now furnished with period antiques. In 2017, two pump stations were installed in the building’s basement to push out encroaching floodwaters.

There has been great community support for the protection of East Point Lighthouse. (Courtesy of Maurice River Historical Society)
Nancy Patterson (Courtesy Nancy Patterson)

A dune system that was protecting the lighthouse was breached by a storm in March 2019, putting the site in grave danger. In May 2019, the nonprofit Preservation New Jersey chose the East Point Lighthouse as one of the 10 most endangered historic sites in the state. Click here for a recent series of photos showing the battle with a erosion near the East Point Lighthouse

Nancy Patterson, guest on this episode of Light Hearted, is president of the Maurice River Historical Society, and she manages the East Point Lighthouse. Nancy is also an artist and has written and illustrated two children’s books. Click here for her website.

Special guest co-host with Jeremy D’Entremont for this episode is Charlotte Raczkowski, a volunteer for Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses. Also featured is commentary from Judianne Point, a volunteer for Friends of Pomham Rocks Lighthouse in East Providence, Rhode Island, who explains what she loves about volunteering.

Pomham Rocks Lighthouse. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont

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