Cape Fear Light

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Cape Fear Lighthouse
Cape Fear Lighthouse is located in North Carolina
Cape Fear Lighthouse
Cape Fear Lighthouse
Cape Fear Lighthouse is located in the US
Cape Fear Lighthouse
Cape Fear Lighthouse
Location North Carolina
Coordinates 33°53′34″N 78°02′05″W / 33.8927°N 78.0348°W / 33.8927; -78.0348Coordinates: 33°53′34″N 78°02′05″W / 33.8927°N 78.0348°W / 33.8927; -78.0348
Year first constructed 1903
Year first lit 1903
Construction steel skeleton
Tower shape octagonal
Height 184 feet
Range 19 miles
ARLHS number USA-1028
USCG number
Cape Fear Lighthouse Complex
Nearest city Bald Head Island, North Carolina
Area 2 acres (0.81 ha)
Demolished 1958
NRHP Reference # 78001931[1]
Added to NRHP August 29, 1978

Cape Fear Lighthouse was a coastal beacon built in 1903, replacing the Bald Head Lighthouse as the main navigation aid for Cape Fear and the Frying Pan Shoals off the coast of the U.S. state of North Carolina. It stood near the cape on Bald Head Island. It was a steel skeleton frame lighthouse, as opposed to the brick lighthouses usually associated with the state. It was painted red and white horizontal stripes: three white and two red and housed a first-order Fresnel lens produced by the Henry-LePaute Company in France. It was maintained for most of its lifetime by Capt. Charlie Swan, its lighthouse keeper. On December 5, 1932, first assistant lighthouse keeper, Devaney F. Jennette, died while in the watch tower. He was talking to Capt. Swan at the time. The Cape Fear Lighthouse was demolished in 1958 and replaced by the powerful Oak Island Lighthouse.

When the lighthouse was demolished the Coast Guard in an unusual move gave the first order Fresnel lens from the Cape Fear lighthouse to the demolition contractor. The intact lens ended up at an antique store in Wilmington where the prisms and glass panels were sold off piece by piece over the next 50 years. In 2009 what was left of the lens was acquired by the Old Baldy Foundation and returned to Bald Head island for restoration. Several of the glass prisms and panels from the lens that were sold off over the years have been returned to Bald Head Island. The Old Baldy Foundation plans to display the restored lens near the former site of the Cape Fear Lighthouse.

The Cape Fear Lighthouse Complex, also known as Cap'n Charlie's Cottages still stands, it consists of a row of three detached light keepers' houses and a supply shed and the piers of another shed. They were constructed in 1903, along with the lighthouse.[2]

The complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.[1]


  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Division of Archives and History (n.d.). "Cape Fear Lighthouse Complex" (pdf). National Register of Historic Places - Nomination and Inventory. North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved 2014-08-01. 

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