|Morgan Point, CT|
Description: Morgan Point derives its name from Deacon James Morgan, who in 1712 gained ownership of the southern tip of the peninsula on the west side of the mouth of the Mystic River. Morgan’s descendants were mariners and shipbuilders, and it was Morgan’s great-great-grandson, owner of the local boat shop, who sold the property to the federal government in 1831 to build a lighthouse. A 25-foot granite tower and a separate stone keeper’s house with six rooms were finished that same year.
A veteran of the War of 1812 named Ezra Daboll was the first keeper of the Morgan Point Lighthouse. When he died in 1838, his wife Eliza was appointed the new keeper. With six children to look after as well as the light, Eliza had her hands full. Her oldest daughter helped out with some chores, and legend has it that sailors often heard her singing loudly during storms to keep her courage up. In a report written in 1838, Lt. Bache noted “the establishment is kept in great neatness by the widow of the former keeper.” Eliza Daboll was keeper until she passed away in 1854.
Complaints that the array of ten lamps in the lantern room of the Morgan Point Lighthouse were too dim, led to the installation of a sixth-order lens in 1855.
At least one other female keeper served at Morgan Point, a Frances McDonald, who like Daboll, assumed responsibility for the light upon her husband’s death. Mrs. McDonald served from 1869 to 1871, when keeper duties were passed to her brother, Thaddeus Pecor. Pecor was one of the longest-serving keepers in the region, finally ending his 48 years of service with his retirement in 1919 at 75 years of age.
The first tower was rebuilt during 1867-1868. The new structure had eight rooms and an add-on kitchen. The old structure was torn down, its cellar filled, and the grounds above graded. As recently as the late 1960s, the remains of the original tower’s foundations could still be seen during dry weather.
The station ended active service in 1919, replaced with an automatic beacon tower positioned on Crooks Ledge in the channel east of the site. In 1922, the property was sold at auction to one Henry Hewitt for $8,625. Sometime later, the lantern room was removed, although there are conflicting reports on who did it and where it went. Some say it was taken for use in another lighthouse, although other sources claim it was destroyed in the great New England hurricane of 1938. In any case, local residents reportedly took refuge inside the base of the tower during the hurricane, believing correctly that it was one of the safest places to be during a storm.
In 1991, Jason Pilalas, a Connecticut native but then a partner in a California investment firm, purchased the Morgan Point Lighthouse for $1.29 million after having seen an ad for it in the Wall Street Journal. “I had harbored the dream for 40 years of living in the lighthouse on Captain’s Island off Greenwich, knowing I never could,” says Jason. “When I found its exact twin, we were going to own it, that’s all there was to it.”
One of Pilalas’ first priorities was to reconstruct the lantern room. Working with an architect and using old U.S. Lighthouse Service plans, a new lantern was made out of aluminum by a company in Rhode Island and is rumored to have cost around $35,000. As the lighthouse had a leaky roof and its wood was rotten, the entire inside had to be gutted and remodeled to make comfortable living quarters. The first floor of the lighthouse is now an open family room filled with nautical artifacts. A foyer links the lighthouse to a cedar-shingled addition, which gives the residence a total of five bedrooms and three bathrooms. As a private residence, the lighthouse and the surrounding grounds are now closed to the public, although the structure is well-kept and remains an important visual landmark for maritime traffic coming into Mystic Harbor.
Located on Morgan Point on the western side
of the entrance to Mystic Harbor. The lighthouse is privately owned. Grounds/dwelling/tower closed.
The lighthouse is privately owned. Grounds/dwelling/tower closed.
Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.