It replaced a previous Cream City brick lighthouse constructed in 1855 that was located too close to the edge of the eroding bluff. In 1888 a cast iron lighthouse was built, but this tower was not tall enough and was placed on top of a steel structure in 1912 raising its height to 74 feet (23 m) and light focal plane to 154 feet (47 m). The tower underwent restoration in 2005.
The first lantern burned mineral oil. A new lens, installed in 1868, is still in use. The present light source is a 25,000 candlepower lamp rotated electrically and controlled by an automatic time clock. The lens focuses a 1,300,000 candlepower signal visible for 25 miles (40 km).
A $984,000 grant was used to restore the light and to open it to the public.