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 Lynde Point (Saybrook Inner), CT    
Lighthouse best viewed by boat or plane.Lighthouse appeared in movie.Active Fresnel Lens
Description: The quaint village of Old Saybrook is situated on the west side of the entrance to the Connecticut River. First settled in 1635, the town was incorporated in 1852. The mighty Connecticut River, the largest in New England, meets Long Island Sound at Old Saybrook, and by the beginning of the nineteenth century, ship traffic spawned by fishing and other industries into the harbor at Old Saybrook was considerable.

In 1802, the government paid $225 to William Lynde for land at the harbor entrance, and a year later the Lynde Point Lighthouse, a 35-foot wooden tower, was completed by New London carpenter Abisha Woodward at a cost of $2,200, a goodly sum for that time.

Lynde Point Lighthouse was designed to be a leading light for ships coming through Long Island Sound, as well as a marker for the entrance to the Connecticut River. Like other wooden lighthouses of the time, the Lynde Point Lighthouse was not tall enough to be seen effectively by ships and was the subject of much criticism by local sailors. Another problem was that evaporation from the nearby marshland created a local mist that obscured the light, even when the weather was clear out at sea.

Lynde Point Lighthouse
Photograph courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
Lt. George Bache described the keeper’s quarters at the time as a sound six-room frame structure, but he characterized the tower as “very much decayed, and is about to be taken down.” The original light was replaced by a 65-foot octagonal brownstone tower in 1838. Its walls are five feet thick at its base and currently painted white, though the original red of the stone is visible in some places where the paint is peeling. All the windows of the Lynde Point light face the water, an arrangement that allowed early keepers to have a better view of ships crossing the shallow bar at the river entrance, a tricky and dangerous crossing before the breakwaters were installed around 1880. After the breakwaters were constructed, the Lynde Point light was also referred to as the Saybrook Inner light, while the Breakwater Light was known as Saybrook Outer.

In 1852, a fourth-order Fresnel lens replaced the antiquated lighting apparatus of ten lamps and reflectors. The power of the lighthouse was diminished in 1890 when a fifth-order lens, which remains atop the tower to this day, was installed.

Lawrence Gildersleeve, who was born in the lighthouse in 1906 while his father Elmer was keeper, recalled his childhood living in a lighthouse for a 1975 interview in the New Haven Register. To pass time, the family played cards, listened to the phonograph, or just watched the passing parade of ships. Gildersleeve did not recall ever feeling lonely there. Sometimes he was sent out the front door to catch some supper for the family, and usually within twenty minutes he would have some eels or flounder. Young Lawrence made friends with the families in the nearby village, and sometimes caddied on the local golf course.

Of course, lighthouse life was not for everyone. In an Associated Press article from the 1970s, the wife of one of the last keepers gave her differing opinion: “It’s so boring, there’s nothing to do. It’s a place to get fat, eat, and lie around and watch TV. Even my dog’s gained weight.”

Much to the chagrin of the Old Saybrook Historical Society, the Coast Guard demolished the attractive gothic revival gambrel-roofed keeper’s dwelling that dated to 1858 (shown in the historic photograph) and replaced it with a nondescript duplex.

The Lynde Point Lighthouse was automated in 1975, although it continues to be manned to prevent vandalism. The road to the lighthouse is not open to the public, unfortunately. The surrounding neighborhood is quite exclusive and counted the late Katherine Hepburn as one of its residents for many years.

Head Keepers: Philip Brumley (1803 - ),

Photo Gallery: 1 2 3

References

  1. Northeast Lights: Lighthouses and Lightships, Rhode Island to Cape May, New Jersey, Robert Bachand, 1989.
  2. Capsule Histories of Some Local Islands and Light Houses, Benjamin Rathbun, 2001.
  3. The Lighthouses of Connecticut, Jeremy D’Entremont, 2005.

Location: Located at Lynde Point near the foot of the Saybrook Breakwater along the western side of the entrance to the Connecticut River.
Latitude: 41.27153
Longitude: -72.34318

For a larger map of Lynde Point (Saybrook Inner) Lighthouse, click the lighthouse in the above map or get a map from: Mapquest.


Travel Instructions: The lighthouse is located at the end of a private road, but distant views can be had nearby. From Interstate 95, take exit 67 and proceed south on Elm Street to Main Street (Highway 154). Turn right onto Main and follow it for 2.5 miles to the Saybrook Point Inn and Marina. At that point, turn right on Bridge Street, crossing over South Cove, and then turn left onto Nibang Avenue. From Nibang, turn right onto Fenwick Avenue, left onto Agawam Avenue, and then left onto Neponset Avenue, where you will get a distant view of the Lynde Point Lighthouse.

During the summer, Sunbeam Fleet offers trips that go by the Lynde Point Lighthouse.

The lighthouse is owned by the Coast Guard. Grounds/dwelling/tower closed.

Find the closest hotels to Lynde Point (Saybrook Inner) Lighthouse

Notes from a friend:

Kraig writes:
The Town of Old Saybrook and Lynde Point Lighthouse, which is known as Hell's Beacon, appear in the movie Predator Island. Interior and exterior shots of the lighthouse are used, and there is a good view of the lantern room and its Fresnel lens. Just because a movie has a lighthouse in it doesn't mean it is a good movie.

See our List of Lighthouses in Connecticut

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Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.