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top of lighthouse
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Southeast Lighthouse

Lighthouse is 2 miles south of Old Harbor off of Spring Street.
Generally open daylight hours hours in summer
401-466-5009 30 minutes or less
July 2014 Summer, Fall, Spring
$0-9 New Shoreham Rhode Island
Website Historical Lighthouses
First review
 
Block Island Southeast Lighthouse includes a light tower, a former lighthouse keeper’s home, and a few acres of well manicured grounds on the southern part of Block Island. The lighthouse was built in 1875, deactivated in 1990 and then relit in 1994. It’s 52 feet high and includes a first-order Fresnel lens. The lighthouse is a US National Historic Landmark, and is now owned by a local nonprofit foundation.

The light was initially powered by whale oil but was switched to kerosene after a few years. Like a lonely solider keeping a solitary vigil, the lighthouse was faithfully in operation from day to day, across the seasons, through the years and spanning the decades. It weathered scorching summer days, frozen winter nights, ferocious storms, and relentless salt spray. If it could talk, no doubt it would have some interesting stories to share about passing ships, dedicated stewards and traveler sojourns. Due to significant erosion, by the 1990s the lighthouse was in real danger of falling into the sea. After briefly being shutdown, it was moved 300 feet away from the coast in 1993 and then reactivated with a new lens.

There is a lighthouse on both the north and south part of Block Island. While they are both open to the public, only the southern tower can be ascended. Also, the southern lighthouse has a nearby parking lot and easy access. The closest parking lot for the northern light is about half a mile away and then requires a walk along a somewhat difficult sandy beach. As for a visit to the southern lighthouse, temper your enthusiasm. The “tour” consisted of a few generic background comments about the building design and a few significant dates. There is an opportunity to walk up the steps to get a close-up look at the lens and views out the windows. The views were not bad, but you can get a comparable perspective from the grounds. One can see Long Island on a clear day. The house portion was stripped and unfinished during the visit in July 2014. The guide indicated it may be converted into a bed and breakfast, but was not clear when. A very small gift shop at the base of the tower was the extent of guest facilities here. Since the lighthouse can be seen very quickly and only cost a few dollars, it was not a huge bust, but it was neither interesting enough nor informative enough to earn a recommendation.
Author:
guyonthego
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