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Five Mile Point Light- New Haven CT

nrhp # 90001108- Before there was a lighthouse at New Haven's Five Mile Point, the spot was noted for a battle in the American Revolution, when American riflemen repelled a British attempt to land and invade New Haven. British Ensign and Assistant Adjutant Watkins was killed in the skirmish and was buried close to where the lighthouse now stands. The British later landed at Five Mile Point and burned down the house of resident Amos Morris. Morris repaired his house and it still stands, not far from Lighthouse Park. New Haven was a flourishing port in coastal and West Indies trade. Built in 1805 on the east side of the harbor entrance, the first New Haven Light was an octagonal 30-foot wooden tower. It was commonly called Five Mile Point Light after its distance from downtown New Haven. The first keeper was Amos Morris ,Jr., who sold the land for the lighthouse to the government. Morris remained keeper for only three weeks.

From the start the light was considered too low and too dim. In an 1838 report, Lieutenant. George M. Bache described the tower as “very much decayed” and leaky, and said that none of the lights were in the proper position. He also reported the keeper’s house to be “in a very bad state of repair.” The light was also deemed too low and dim to be much of a help to navigation.

There was some consideration given to the possibility idea of a new lighthouse offshore on Southwest Ledge, a more advantageous location, but building a lighthouse on the rocky ledge was then prohibitively expensive. Instead, $10,000 was appropriated for a new, taller tower at Five Mile Point on March 3, 1847. The new 80-foot octagonal tower was constructed by contractor Marcus Bassett of using brownstone from the East Haven quarry of Jabez Potter. The stone was brought to Five Mile Point by horse-drawn drays. The interior was lined with New Haven brick, and a circular granite stairway with 74 steps was added. A system of 12 lamps and reflectors was installed inside the cast- iron lantern, with the light 97 feet above sea level. A new two-and-one-half-story brick keeper’s house was also erected. The 12 lamps and reflectors were replaced in 1855 by a fourth-order Fresnel lens, and a fog bell was added in the 1860s.


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  • Uploaded on April 3, 2013
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Kevin Stewart