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 Huntington Harbor (Lloyd Harbor), NY    
Lighthouse best viewed by boat or plane.Lighthouse open for climbing.Interior open or museum on site.Fee charged.
Description: Huntington Harbor was a favorite anchorage for ships traveling Long Island Sound in the early 1800s. However, onshore winds often drove ships to seek further protection in adjacent Lloyd Harbor, which branched off Huntington Bay. In 1838, Lt. George M. Bache counted seventy vessels lying at anchor in Lloyd Harbor and recommended that a light be built to mark its entrance. After inspecting the site in 1853, Capt. H. Paulding of the U.S. Navy agreed, writing to the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, “Lloyd’s Harbor, on Long Island sound, is the only refuge in stormy weather, for many miles, for the numerous coasting and other vessels that navigate the sound in all seasons. The light on Eaton’s neck guides them into the bay of Huntington; but the approach to Lloyd’s harbor, where alone they can find a safe anchorage, is dangerous.”

Ships entering Lloyd Harbor had to avoid a sand spit sticking out into the channel on one side of the entrance and rocks on the other side. Safe passage was difficult at the best of times, and almost impossible at night or other times of low visibility. Capt. Pauldings letter to the Secretary, penned on August 9, 1853, continues:

Having been repeatedly requested by the watermen who navigate the sound to give my aid in bringing this subject to the notice of the government, I have considered that I could in no way more properly do so than by addressing myself to your excellency. That a more perfect knowledge may be communicated to the department, and upon which an appropriation may be asked of Congress, I would most respectfully propose that a commission of two or three officers be appointed to examine the location, and report to the department over which you preside.

Pauldings' appeal proved successful as Congress approved $4,000 in 1854 for the purpose of building a light at Lloyd Harbor. Two and a half acres on the sandy spit, along with a right of way, were purchased from Samuel and Hannah Denton on July 26, 1855 for $250, but construction on the lighthouse would not begin for almost two more years.

The first Lloyd Harbor Lighthouse was finished in 1857 on the end of the long sand spit. It was a two-story, wood-framed dwelling built on a brick foundation and attached at one corner to a square brick tower. A kitchen, dining room, and sitting room were found on the first floor, and three bedrooms on the second. The original beacon was a fifth-order Fresnel lens showing a fixed white light at a focal plane of forty-eight feet.

The first keeper of the Lloyd Harbor Lighthouse appears to have been Abiatha Johnson, who was appointed on August 11, 1857. Robert McGlone was made acting keeper in 1885 following the passing of Keeper Johnson and permanent keeper on July 9, 1886. Mrs. McGlone died in 1900 during childbirth, prompting Keeper McGlone to hire Augusta Harrigan, a local woman, to help care for his six children and home.

1857 and 1912 Lloyd Harbor Lighthouses
Photograph courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
By the early 1900s, both the public and local politicians were demanding a new lighthouse at a nearby offshore site where the light could mark the entrance to both Lloyd and Huntington Harbors. This lighthouse, which remains standing today, was finished in 1912, and on June 16 of that year the torch was passed from the old lighthouse to the new one. The new lighthouse was a one-story, cement dwelling with attached tower. Its architectural style has been described variously as Venetian Renaissance, Art Deco, Beaux Arts, and an Islamic temple. The basement had a water cistern and two fuel storage rooms, while a bedroom and living room were found on the main floor. The old lighthouse onshore was retained as a shore station for the keeper.

The foundation of the new lighthouse consisted of a concrete caisson built ashore and barged to the offshore site. The sixteen-foot-tall caisson was sunk in six feet of water, filled with concrete, and then topped by a concrete pier. Riprap was placed around the base of the caisson for protection. Also known as the Huntington Harbor Lighthouse, the second Lloyd Harbor Lighthouse is the oldest reinforced concrete lighthouse on the East Coast, and the second oldest in the country, next to the Point Arena Lighthouse in California.

Keeper McGlone moved into the new lighthouse, while Augusta Harrigan continued to live at the old lighthouse. The two McGlone children who had not yet left home, Isabelle, born in 1897, and a son, spent most of their time at the new lighthouse helping their father, who by then was suffering from arthritis. Although Isabelle spent some free time digging clams and catching fish, her daily life was mostly filled with lighthouse-related work. “Looking back on my life at the lighthouse,” recalls Isabelle, “I can truly say there was little pleasure. It seemed as though there was always work to be done and I was more than ready to tumble into bed as soon as the lamp was lit at sundown. I did miss the delights of childhood. Bleakness and drudgery is what I remember.”

Isabelle was freed from lighthouse life in 1916, when her father passed away. Augusta continued to live at the old lighthouse, with a single-barrel shotgun to deter “suspicious characters,” until 1925. The old lighthouse was turned over to the state in 1926, and then to the town of Huntington in 1928. The dwelling, which went mostly unused, was damaged by vandals and then destroyed on November 12, 1947, after a fire, started in the fireplace by some hunters, got out of control. Reverend E. J. Humeston (Huntington’s town historian) wrote, “…the fire had put a period to its long sentence to shameful and shameless neglect. Better the pyre than ignominious disuse.” Augusta counted the fire as a blessing the provided the lighthouse a “clean escape from neglect and its scurrilous maltreatment at the hands of tramps, campers, and filthy nobodies.”

The fourth-order Fresnel lens was transferred from the old tower to the new, and was automated in 1949. The lens was removed in 1967. The Coast Guard planned to demolish the station around that time, but local protests saved the structure. Over the next few years, a large crack appeared along the north wall, and by the mid-1980s, once again the lighthouse was going to be torn down. A non-profit group called Save Huntington’s Lighthouse was formed with the aim of restoring the station. The group eventually received a lease from the Coast Guard, and in 1989 the station was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2003, with the lighthouse safe and secure, the group changed its name to the Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society. The group conducts tours of the lighthouse, which is the only offshore Long Island lighthouse regularly open to the public. The station continues to be an active aid to navigation, with a modern 300mm lens as its beacon. The original fog bell, with its inscription “Jersey City NJ 1911,” sits on the lantern deck next to the modern fog signal.

A Notice of Availability, dated July 2, 2010, announced that Huntington Harbor Lighthouse was excess to the needs of the United States Coast Guard and would be “made available at no cost to eligible entities defined as Federal agencies, state and local agencies, non-profit corporations, educational agencies, or community development organizations for educational, park, recreational, cultural or historic preservation purposes.” Qualifying organizations were given sixty days to submit a letter of interest.

In 2011, the Department of the Interior announced that Huntington Harbor Lighthouse would be transferred to the Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society.

References:

  1. America’s Atlantic Coast Lighthouse, Kenneth Kochel, 1996.
  2. Northeast Lights: Lighthouses and Lightships, Rhode Island to Cape May, New Jersey, Robert Bachand, 1989.
  3. Long Island’s Lighthouses Past and Present, Robert G. Müller, 2004.

Location: Located several hundred feet offshore at the entrance to Lloyd Harbor. The lighthouse marks the entrance to both Lloyd Harbor and Huntington Harbor.
Latitude: 40.91069
Longitude: -73.4313

For a larger map of Huntington Harbor (Lloyd Harbor) Lighthouse, click the lighthouse in the above map or get a map from: Mapquest.


Travel Instructions: One block west of the intersection of Highways 25A and 110 in Huntington, turn north on Wall Street. After 0.6 miles turn left on Southdown Road. Follow Southdown Road to its end. Southdown Road will make two sharp right turns and a sharp left turn before you reach the end. The Huntington Harbor Lighthouse is visible in the harbor from the end of the road.

Boat tours to the lighthouse are offered by Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society, the non-profit group that is restoring the lighthouse. Tours run every other Sunday during the summer between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The lighthouse is owned by the Coast Guard. Dwelling/tower open during tours.

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