|Nantucket Cliff Range, MA|
Description: When Lieutenant Edward Carpender was inspecting the lights of Nantucket in 1838, he noted that two beacons were being erected at the “head of Brant point, opposite to the best water on the bar.” These range lights, officially known as the Nantucket Cliff Beacons but called the “Bug Lights” by locals, served along with a pair of range lights on Brant Point and various buoys to guide vessels into Nantucket Harbor.
The Annual Report of the Lighthouse Board notes the following modifications to the station over the years:
1868 – Plank walks renewed; illuminating apparatus examined and adjusted; timepiece oiled and cleansed; lamps repaired; two lamps refitted with new burners; chest of tools supplied.
In 1889, the wooden pyramidal towers were replaced with the present conical wooden towers. A brick oil house was added to the station in 1904, and the roof of the front tower was modified - likely to permit the reflector to be raised by two feet.
The Bug Lights were discontinued in 1912, and the front range light and the “keeper’s tool house” were sold to Ellenwood B. Coleman. Frank B. Gilbreth, Sr. purchased the property from the Coleman estate in 1921 for $1,840. At that time, the rear range light was still located a few hundred feet south of the property, and the keeper’s dwelling was located across Pawguvet Lane and owned by Philip R. Whitney, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Not many years after the Gilbreths showed up with their eleven children and expanded the tool house, the Whitneys relocated their dwelling to 11 Easton Street.
An unforgettable sight for your chronicler, then a deliriously excited, freckle-faced tyke of ten, was that of a group of Nantucket men with a horse and a ship's capstan, moving the larger lighthouse to its current location, close aboard and just abaft our present cottage, The Shoe, built in 1952. We took the name of our house from the original toolhouse cottage that it replaced. Dad named the original place The Shoe to tease Mother, whom he compared to the old lady with more than enough children who resided in one.
The two towers were named “Mic” and “Cyc” after Mike and Ike, two cartoon figures of the day. (Name signs still hang over the doorways – Cyc is the taller tower.) As there was not enough room for the family in The Shoe, the towers were converted into dormitories for the children.
Frank B. Gilbreth, Sr. and his wife Lillian were engineers who studied the work habits of manufacturing and clerical employees in order to create processes that were more efficient. The Gilbreths often used their children as guinea pigs in their experiments, and the family exploits were later chronicled by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and his sister Ernestine in the book Cheaper by the Dozen, which inspired two films of the same title.
Inside the towers, a circular wooden staircase with accompanying handrail leads from the first floor to the top where there is a built-in cabinet with a brass plate for holding the lantern next to the window. Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr added a vestibule to Cyc that contains a small kitchen and a bathroom with shower. This addition made the taller tower a stand-alone guest lighthouse, as the bottom floor of the thirty-five-foot-tall tower has a sofa bed, small dining room table, bureau, and chairs, the second floor landing has a second bed, and the third floor has a desk a space for hanging clothes.
Head Keepers: Peleg Easton (1838 - 1852), Mary Easton (1852 - 1856), Walter Folger (1856 - 1861), Alexander Macy (1861 - 1865), Samuel Christian (1865 - 1873), Charles B. Swain (1873 - 1876), William C. Marden (1876 - 1881), Reuben R. Hobbs (1881 - 1902), George E. Dolby (1902 - at least 1912).
Photo Gallery: 1
Located just under a mile northeast of the Brant Point Lighthouse. The pair of lights are privately owned. Grounds/towers closed.
The pair of lights are privately owned. Grounds/towers closed.
Notes from a friend:Kraig writes:
Here is an excerpt from the Nantucket chapter in Cheaper by the Dozen that mentions the lighthouses:
See our List of Lighthouses in Massachusetts
Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.