History of Scituate Lighthouse
In the year 1810 the United States Congress voted $4000 to build a lighthouse at Scituate Harbor. The Light, of split granite blocks with a one and one half story house attached, was activated in 1811.
Captain Simeon Bates, the first keeper of Scituate Lighthouse, his wife, and nine children lived at the house. During the War of 1812 Abigail and Rebecca, young daughters of the lighthouse keeper, prevented the British from sacking the town. Noting the approach of two redcoat-filled barges from a British ship of war, the girls snatched fife and drum and hiding behind a thick cluster of cedar trees made such a din that the British mistook them for an entire regiment and made a hasty retreat. Abigail and Rebecca Bates have gone down in history as 'The American Army of Two" and their courageous act has been recorded in many textbooks and story books.
Due to complaints from mariners that the light could not be seen from far enough away to make proper heading adjustments, the government added fifteen feet in height to the tower in 1827, mortaring red brick on top of the granite blocks. The light was deactivated in 1860 with the construction of the new Minot’s Light to the north, and the lantern room removed. A minor beacon was kept at the end of the breakwater extending to the south from Cedar Point.
In 1916 the Town of Scituate purchased the lighthouse for $1000 from the federal government, saving it from public auction. In 1930 the Town built a new lantern room atop the light, justifying it, even during the first year of the Great Depression, by stating that "a community is judged by the condition of its public buildings; therefore the lighthouse should be well kept and in pleasing looking condition."
In 1968 Town Meeting awarded custody and administration of the Lighthouse to the Scituate Historical Society, and in 1994 the light was relit for the first time in 134 years. In 2001 the Scituate Historical Society completed the Scituate Lighthouse Runway Exhibit, more than twenty graphic panels on the history of the lighthouse lining the walkway from the house to the tower.
Courtesy of Scituate Historical Society
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