The Unique Story of Scituate Lighthouse

Perched imposingly at the end of Lighthouse Road is the beautiful and prepossessing Scituate Lighthouse, a beacon that has been shining brightly across the harbor and out into the open Atlantic ocean for over 200 storied years.
The year was 1810 when the United States Congress voted to erect a lighthouse in Scituate that would cost a total of $4000. Constructed using split granite blocks and built with a flanking one and a half story house attached, the Scituate Lighthouse roared to life as an active lighthouse in 1811.
Captain Simeon Bates along with his wife and nine children became the first keepers of the Lighthouse. Only a year into their post, the family became heroes, when two of the daughters, Abigail and Rebecca, prevented the British from attacking the town of Scituate. After discovering two redcoat-filled barges not far from shore one day, the girls proceeded to use both fife and drum in a cluster of cedars that made such a sound as to scare off the Brits who mistook the noise for an entire regiment. The retreat became renowned and the girls were from that day forward known as ‘The American Army of Two,’ with their courageous acts even being recorded in textbooks and storybooks.
In the years that followed complaints arose from mariners who stated that the light could not be seen from great enough distances thereby making it difficult to make the proper heading adjustments in time. And so, in 1827 the government added fifteen feet in height to the tower by mortaring red bricks on top of the granite slabs.
In 1860, the light was deactivated as a result of the new Minot’s Light being built to the north. However, a minor beacon was kept at the end of the breakwater after deactivation.
Fast forward 56 years to 1916, when the Town of Scituate purchased the lighthouse for $1000 from the federal government, thereby saving it from public auction. 14 years later, during the first year of the Great Depression, the town built a new lantern room atop the light 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 passed the custody and administration of the Scituate Lighthouse onto the Scituate Historical Society, and in 1994 its light shone for the first time in 134 years. To commemorate its storied history, the Scituate Historical Society created the Scituate Lighthouse Runway Exhibit, comprising more than twenty graphic panels on the history of the lighthouse which ran the length of the walkway from the house to the tower.
In 2011 both the utility room of the cottage were renovated and it is now included as part of the tour. Enlisting the help of the Community Preservation Act, funds were allocated to replace dangerous wiring and outfit the cottage with a new heating system as well. During this time all of the incredible stories from the 20th century were vetted and confirmed. Meanwhile, the history continues to grow at one of the most charming and inviting lighthouses in the United States.



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