Five Mile Point Light

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Five Mile Point Light
Five Mile Point Light - New Haven CT.jpg
Location Long Island Sound, New Haven, Connecticut
Coordinates 41°14′54″N 72°54′14″W / 41.2483°N 72.9039°W / 41.2483; -72.9039
Year first constructed 1805
Year first lit 1847 (current tower)
Deactivated 1877
Foundation Brownstone
Construction Brownstone
Tower shape Octagonal
Height 80 ft (24 m)
Original lens 12 Lamps, 21 inch reflectors, 1845
Current lens Fourth order Fresnel lens
Range 10 nautical miles (20 km)
Five Mile Point Lighthouse
Five Mile Point Light is located in Connecticut
Five Mile Point Light
Location Lighthouse Point Park, New Haven, Connecticut
Coordinates 41°14′56″N 72°54′14″W / 41.24889°N 72.90389°W / 41.24889; -72.90389Coordinates: 41°14′56″N 72°54′14″W / 41.24889°N 72.90389°W / 41.24889; -72.90389
Area less than one acre
Built 1812
Architect Bassett,Marcus
Architectural style Lighthouse
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 90001108[1]
Added to NRHP August 1, 1990

Five Mile Point Light, also known as Five Mile Point Lighthouse or Old New Haven Harbor Lighthouse, is a lighthouse in New Haven, Connecticut, United States, on the harbor entrance to Long Island Sound, five miles (8 km) from Downtown New Haven. Originally in 1805, a 30-foot (9.1 m) octagonal wooden tower was built by Abisha Woodward. In 1847, a new 80-foot (24 m) octagonal tower was constructed by Marcus Bassett with East Haven brownstone from Jabez Potter's quarry. The light was powered by 12 lamps with reflectors and was located 97 feet (30 m) above sea level. Also constructed was a two-and-one-half story brick house to replace an existing structure in a "very bad state of repair". In 1855, a fourth-order Fresnel lens replaced the lamps and a fog bell was added in the 1860s. The light was discontinued in 1877 and replaced by the Southwest Ledge Light. The lighthouse is located in Lighthouse Point Park and the light and its keeper's house were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.


During the American Revolutionary War, the site of the future lighthouse was the scene of a battle. D'Entremont notes, "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 would later return and burn the house of Amos Morris that was located nearby. Amos Morris repaired his house and it continues to stand to this day.[2] After Amos Morris died in 1801, his son, Amos Morris Jr., would sell the plot of land for the lighthouse to the government for $100.[3]

Original tower[edit]

In 1804, the United States Congress passed a statue requiring the secretary of the treasury to build a lighthouse at Five Mile Point if land could be obtained for a reasonable price.[4] On March 16, 1805, an appropriation for $2500 was issued for the construction of the lighthouse.[5] Late that year, a 30-foot (9.1 m) octagonal wooden tower was built by Abisha Woodward on the southwest edge of the harbor and to mark the path around the Southwest Ledge.[2][3] The fixed white light was made by eight oil lamps with 13 inches (33 cm) parabolic reflectors, but it was criticized for being too dim.[3] The lighthouse also had a keeper's quarters constructed in 1805. The first keeper of the light was Amos Morris Jr., for a period of just three weeks.[3] An 1832 report noted that the light was 50 feet (15 m) above the water and that its visibility had been improved with the removal of some trees. In 1838, Lieutenant George M. Bache reported that the wooden tower and keeper's house was in a poor state. Congress would appropriated $10,000 to construct a new stone lighthouse on March 3, 1847.[2]

Current tower[edit]

Postcard, about 1912

Constructed in 1847, the new 80-foot (24 m) octagonal tower was constructed by Marcus Bassett with East Haven brownstone from Jabez Potter's quarry. The interior of the lighthouse was lined with New Haven brick and a 74-step granite stairway leads to the cast-iron lantern. The light was powered by 12 lamps with reflectors and was located 97 feet (30 m) above sea level. Also constructed was a new two-and-one-half story brick house to replace the one in a "very bad state of repair".[3] The light would be replaced with a fourth-order Fresnel lens in 1855. In the 1860s, a fog bell was also added.[3]

The lighthouse was extinguished in 1877 when the offshore Southwest Ledge Light replaced it for navigation.[6] The keeper, Elizur Thompson, went to be the Southwest Ledge Light's keeper for five years before returning to live in the Five Mile Point Light keeper's quarters and fly storm signal flags for the United States Weather Bureau.[3] In 1896, the lighthouse was transferred to the United States Department of War and was improved by a leasee named Albert Widmann.[3] In 1922, the property was split up, with the land given to the state of Connecticut and the buildings to the city of New Haven.[3] Two years later, New Haven purchased the land from the state for $11,180.[3] The tower was renovated in 1986.[7] The $86,000 restoration included repairing cracked mortar, steam cleaning the interior and exterior and removing "guano [that had] accumulated over the decades".[3]


Roth and Clouette note that the "Five Mile Point Lighthouse is significant because it embodies the distinctive characteristics of American lighthouse construction during the first half of the 19th century ... [it] is also significant in the maritime history of New Haven."[8] The keeper's dwelling currently is a private residence for New Haven Recreation Department personnel and has been modified with the addition of a porch.[8] The lighthouse and the keeper's residence were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.[8]

List of keepers[edit]

Name Year Reference Service Notes
Amos Morris, Jr 1805 [2]
Wedmore 1805 [2]
Jonathan Finch 1805–1821 [2]
William Finch 1821–1824 [2]
Elihu Ives 1824–1846 [2]
George W. Hicks 1846–1849 [2]
Stephen Willard 1849–1853 [2]
Merritt Thompson 1853–1860 [2]
Elizur Thompson 1860–1867 and [2] Served again as keeper after Charles W. Bradley.
Charles W. Bradley 1867–1869 [2]
Elizur Thompson 1869–1877 [2] Elizabeth Thompson was an assistant from 1869 to 1871.[2] Theodore Thompson was an assistance from 1871 to 1873.[2] George Thompson was an assistant from 1873 to 1876.[2] Sidney Thompson was an assistant in 1876.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r D'Entremont, Jeremy. "Five Mile Point Lighthouse history". New England Lighthouses. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k D'Entremont, Jeremy (2005). The Lighthouses of Connecticut. Commonwealth Editions. ISBN 1889833703. 
  4. ^ The Public and General Statutes Passed by the Congress of the United States of America. From 1789 to [1847] ... Inclusive, Whether Expired, Repealed, Or in Force: 1789–1836 [i.e. 1827] called 2d ed.-v. 4. 1828–1836 [i.e. 1837]-v. 5. 1837–1847. T. and J.W. Johnson,. 1839. p. 921. 
  5. ^ Laws of the United States of America: From the 4th of March, 1789, to the [3rd of March, 1845] : Including the Constitution of the United States, the Old Act of Confederation, Treaties, and Many Other Valuable Ordinances and Documents; with Copious Notes and References, Volume 7, Part 2. J. Bioren and W.J. 1828. p. 29. 
  6. ^ Five Mile Point (Old New Haven), CT. Archived 3 February 2011 at WebCite
  7. ^ Five Mile Point (Old New Haven) Light. Inventory of Historic Light Stations Connecticut Lighthouses. National Park Service. Archived 3 February 2011 at WebCite
  8. ^ a b c Matthew Roth and Bruce Clouette (January 29, 1990). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Five Mile Point Lighthouse / Old New Haven Lighthouse". National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2011-02-03.  and Accompanying 10 photos from 1990 (see photo captions on page 12 of text document)

External links[edit]