New Point Comfort Lighthouse

 

New Point Comfort 2015-Photo courtesy Janice Vogel

The New Point Comfort light, the third oldest light on the Bay, was built in 1804. It is located at the entrance to Mobjack Bay and the mouth of the York River in Mathews County, Virginia.
In 1865 the 63-foot tower was fitted with a new fourth-order Fresnel lens that allowed the light to be visible for 13 miles. The light was automated in 1930.

In 1933 a hurricane struck and washed away much of the land around the lighthouse causing it to be stranded on a very small island a few 100 yards from the tip of the mainland.

In 1930 the light was completely automated and in 1950 the lighthouse was converted to electricity. By 1963 the light was decommissioned and replaced by an offshore beacon.

Over the years, soil erosion has been the most serious threat to the lighthouse, as well as a massive hurricane that struck in 1933, carving out a channel between the lighthouse and the mainland. In 1972 the lighthouse was declared a National Historic Landmark and was later deeded to Mathews County in 1976 after the Coast Guard declared the tower excess property.

In hopes of saving the lighthouse, the Mathews County Historical Society entered into an agreement with the Mathews County Board of Supervisors in 2001. In this agreement, they would develop a 2-phase master plan to preserve the lighthouse. In 2009, the Virginia Department of Transportation awarded a $424,000 enhancement grant to complete Phase I of the plan which would include building a retaining wall constructed of 5,000 tons of granite. They also raised the ground level around the lighthouse, constructed a new pier, and provided a pedestrian path around the lighthouse. This work was completed in 2012.

Phase II of the work will include the actual restoration of the lighthouse which will be made possible by a 1.6-million-dollar grant funded by the Virginia Department of Transportation. In addition, Mathews County will match the grant with an additional 20%. After a two-year study completed by McPherson Design Group in Norfolk, Mathews County issued a request for bids in November 2019 from qualified contractors to complete the restoration work. This restoration work will include the historic restoration of the stone (inside and out), repairing the ironwork, historic work of decorative metal, installing new windows and door, installing a new ground floor, reconstructing the lantern room, as well as replacing the existing light with a LED light.

Head Keepers:  Elzy Burroughs (1805 – 1814), Robert Lithburn (1814 – 1815), James B.R. Johnson (1815 – 1819), William Johnson (1819 – 1830), William R. Brownley (1830 – 1846), Isaac Foster (1846 – 1854), James B. White (1854), Edward S. White (1854 – 1861), Joseph S. Allen (1865 – 1870), Sylvester H. Wolhiser (1870 – 1871), J. McHenry Farley (1871 – 1873), John D. Hudgins (1873 – 1876), Leonard Smithers (1876 – 1879), Augustine F. Hudgins (1879 – 1881), William F. Ripley (1881 – 1883), Charles W. Forrest (1883 – 1888), Oliver R. Hudgins (1888 – 1899), James B. Hurst (1899 – 1901), Richard Wiscom Marchant (1901 – 1906), Riley S. Hudgins (1906), Wesley Foster Ripley (1906 – at least 1915), Edward A. Sibley (1916 – 1919), Henry L. Dow (1919 – 1954)

Updated 8/15/2020


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GPS: 37.302255, -76.277390

Permanent link to this article: https://cheslights.org/new-point-comfort-lighthouse/