Greenbury Point Shoals Lighthouse

Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard

The original Greenbury Point Light Station was constructed in 1849 to mark the entrance to the Annapolis Harbor. In 1878, the Lighthouse Board reported, “The light, in its present position, is of little use, and is so small that it can hardly be distinguished from the lights of the Naval Academy and the harbor of Annapolis.” The structure was also in need of extensive repairs and the land was quickly eroding around the house.


Starting in 1879, the Lighthouse Board recommended an appropriation of $25,000 to build a lighthouse at the end of the shoal at Greenbury Point at the entrance to the Severn River, MD to replace the existing lighthouse on the point. After multiple requests, Congress finally appropriated $25,000 to construct the new lighthouse in 1889.

Construction of the superstructure began in 1890 at Lazaretto Depot in Baltimore, MD. On July 28, 1891, work began on the foundation. In August, all piles were in place, but the workers realized that the soil was not firm enough to support the foundation properly. Casts iron disks were acquired “of as great diameter as the spaces between the parts of the ironwork would allow.” Cast-iron sleeves were attached to the disks, then slipped the sleeves and disks onto the piles “and forced down until the disks had obtained a solid bearing on the shoal. The sleeves were then firmly bolted to the piles.” This would allow for the bearing surface to be increased. This additional work caused a delay of approximately six weeks and work on the lighthouse resumed on September 14, 1891. Work then resumed on the construction of the house and was completed on October 8. The new six-room hexagonal wooden lighthouse was supported by seven piles and equipped with a fourth-order Fresnel lens exhibiting a fixed white light. It was first displayed on November 15, 1891.

On February 4, 1918, Keeper John Berntsen sent a letter to the Lighthouse Board regarding dangerous ice floes. “You are respectfully informed that at 1 o’clock this morning the ice broke adrift; at 1:30 a.m. the lamp in the lens upset and was put out of commission, and a minute later the lens fell off the pedestal and broke all to pieces, together with storm panes. There are two panes needed for the lantern and a new lens. Everything in the house was upset except the stove and water tanks. The ice is very heavy and lot of ice yet to come.”

In 1934 the structure was removed and replaced by an automatic light on a small skeleton tower on the original foundation. Locals called the light the “Spider buoy”. On October 21, 2008, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Sledge crew removed the remaining lighthouse structure.

Head Keepers: John B.T. Suit (1891 – 1897), W.S. Stinchicomb (1897 – 1900), Edgar T. Somers (1900 – 1903), Charles W. Hartman (1903 – 1904), Patrick Reedy (1904 – 1905), John E. Faulkner (1905), Patrick Reedy (1905 – 1906), Clinton B. Gray (1906 – 1917), Sheldon R. Van Houter (1917), William H. Schoenfelder (1917), John Berentsen (1917 – at least 1919), John L. Ennis (at least 1921 – 1930), John D. Elliott (1930 – )

Assistant Keepers:  James Reedy (1905 – 1907), Charles A. Larsen (1907 – 1908), George M. Willis, Sr. (1908 – 1911), Patrick Reedy (1911 – at least 1912), David W. Collison (at least 1913), John D. Burton (at least 1915 – 1916), John Berentson (? – 1917), David W. Collison (1916 – 1917), Thomas R. Williams (1918 – 1919), John W. Gaither (1919), John W. Hughes (1919 – ), Morris A. Todd (1920 – ), James G. Meekins (at least 1921), John F. Riley (1926 – 1927)

Updated 7/03/2020


TIMELINEGPS: 38.975°N 76.455°W

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Permanent link to this article: https://cheslights.org/greenbury-point-shoals-lighthouse/