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Historical Materials

Historical Materials  »  Flags, Lighthouses, & Navigation Aids  »  Rockport, Mass. - Thacher Island Twin Lighthouses

Rockport, Mass. - Thacher Island Twin Lighthouses

View related Fitz Henry Lane catalog entries (3) »

For centuries the Thacher Island Twin Lighthouses, or Cape Ann Light Station, have guided mariners off Cape Ann to safety. Thacher Island is a 52-acre island located on the eastern shore of Rockport, MA about a half-mile offshore and has been visited by Europeans as early as 1605, but didn't have a light station until 1771. On December 21, 1771 two 45-foot stone towers were lit on Thacher Island to mark the dangerous Londoner Ledge to the southeast of Thacher Island. These Thacher Island Twin Lighthouses were the 11th and last lighthouses to be built under the British occupation of the colonies. In the century after the original towers were built, the Cape Ann Light Station underwent numerous changes. New lamps were installed in 1810, a two-story wooden keepers house was built in 1840, a fog bell was added in 1853, but the most substantial change came in 1861 when the Thacher Island Twin Lighthouses were rebuilt. First lit on October 1, 1861, the formidable 124-foot-tall towers were built from New Hampshire Granite and boasted first-order Fresnel lens, making each of the lights visible from 22 miles away. A three-story keeper's house was built the same year and housed two separate families. Fitz Henry Lane depicted the Cape Ann Light Station on at least two occasions; the works date to the 1850s and 1861.

This information has been shared with the Lane project by Jeremy D'Entremont. More information can be found at his website, www.newenglandlighthouses.net or in The Lighthouse Handbook New England. This information has also been summarized from Paul St. Germain's book, Lighthouses and Lifesaving Stations on Cape Ann.

Related tables: Thacher Island »

publication
1862 Cape Ann Advertiser 1.10.1862
1.10.1862
Newsprint
Cape Ann Advertiser
Collection of Fred and Stephanie Buck

"VISIT TO LANE'S STUDIO.

We called at the studio of this artist a few days ago, and found several new paintings had been added to his collection since our last visit. The first that arrested our attention was a view of Good Harbor Beach. . . .

A scene outside Eastern Point, during a fresh sou'wester, is full of life, and faithfully portrayed on the canvass. . . .

A fancy sketch, representing a storm scene, is also on exhibition. . . .

The Artist has now on his easel a large picture 36x60, just commenced, which we should judge would be his master-piece. It will be on exhibition when finished, and we forbear a description of it at this time. Mr. Lane, as a marine painter, ranks first in the country, and we are pleased to chronicle his success in producing such life-like pictures."

publication
1862 Cape Ann Advertiser 1.10.1862 (Thacher Island lighthouse)
1.10.1862
Newspaper clipping
Cape Ann Advertiser
Collection of Fred and Stephanie Buck

About a visit to the new lighthouse:

"VISIT TO THATCHER'S ISLAND.

On Wednesday last, the yacht Mary Bell, Capt. Merchant, made an excursion to Thatcher's Island. Availing ourselves of an invitation we joined the party and were soon on our way with a brisk breeze, which wafted us speedily to our destination. Arriving at the Island we landed and proceeded to examine the new lighthouses which have recently been erected here, and are now nearly ready for service. The towers are the most substantial that have been erected on the American coast, and reflect great credit on those who have had the superintendence of their construction. . . "

photo (historical)
Cape Ann (Thatcher Island) Light
1891
Photograph

From The Illustrated Coast Pilot with sailing directions. The Coast of New England from New York to Eastport, Maine including Bays and Harbors, published by N. L. Stebbins, Boston, Mass.

Also filed under: Thacher Island »

photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 215 Thatcher's Island
Hervey Friend, Publisher
c.1870
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Also filed under: Historic Photographs »   //  Thacher Island »

photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 60 Thatcher's Island Northern Light
John S. E. Rogers, Publisher
c.1870
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Also filed under: Historic Photographs »   //  Thacher Island »

photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 61 Thatcher's Island Southern Light
John S. E. Rogers, Publisher
c.1870
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Also filed under: Historic Photographs »   //  Thacher Island »

object
First Order Fresnel Lens for Thacher Island lighthouse beacon
L. Sautter & Sons, Paris, France
c.1860
288 individual prisms are mounted in a brass frame, the whole structure measuring 9 ft. 4 in. high and 6 ft. 5" diameter.
Cape Ann Museum. On permanent loan from the United States Coast Guard, 2013

Installed in south light tower, 1861; removed, 1980.

Also filed under: Objects »

illustration
Plans for new lighthouse tower
c.1860
Illustration
U. S. Coast Guard
Photography courtesy of http://www.newenglandlighthouses.net
Citation: "Historical Materials." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/historical_material/index.php?section=Rockport%2C+Mass.+-+Thacher+Island+Twin+Lighthouses (accessed May 28, 2017).
Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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