Conanicut Island, about 6,000 acres, is the second largest island in the state of Rhode Island. The town of Jamestown comprises the entire island, which is connected by bridges to North Kingstown and Newport. Beavertail Point, at the southern peninsula of the island, marks the entrances to both the east and west passages of busy Narragansett Bay. With foreign trade blossoming from Newport, local merchants petitioned for a lighthouse and a 69-foot-tall wooden tower was first lighted in 1749. The first lighthouse tower was destroyed by fire in July 1753, but it was soon rebuilt. A new tower was built in 1856, and the 45-foot square granite lighthouse still stands.
Beavertail Light was automated and destaffed in 1972. It’s now located within Beavertail State Park, while the light itself remains an active aid to navigation and is maintained by the Coast Guard. The Beavertail Lighthouse Museum Association, founded in 1993, preserves and manages the light station. The Beavertail Lighthouse Museum occupies two former keepers’ houses and two other buildings.
Linda Warner is the former president and a board member of the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum Association. Linda and her late husband, George, were honored in 2015 by the Newport Country League of Women Voters as the recipients of their Joan C. Arnold Civic Participation Award for their decades of volunteerism in the area, especially at Beavertail.
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Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org