(Located at the confluence of the James River and the Chesapeake Bay, Hampton Roads, Newport News, VA. Oldest caisson lighthouse in Virginia. Updated 5/27/2020)
1891: 56-foot tall caisson with tower and cast-iron lantern built on L-shaped Middle Ground shoal. Five levels with basement in the top of the caisson. Fitted with 4th-order Fresnel lens and fog bell.
1896- 1899: John Filmore Hudgins serves as keeper.
1915: Keeper Edward Farrow is awarded the efficiency silver star,.
1954: Automation. Keeper and assistant leave. Light & fog bell characteristics changed. Light downgraded to a “second-class tall nun buoy”.
1979: Ship hits lighthouse, damaging the lower portion of the caisson.
1982: Coast Guard inspects lighthouse- general repairs made.
1986-1987: Solar panels added. The light moved to a pole outside of the tower.
1988: Coast Guard sandblasts, paints & does repairs. Deterioration of the lighthouse continues.
1992: CG inspection reveals extensive corrosion of foundation.
2000: CG replaces white light with a more powerful red lamp and moves light back inside the tower.
2003: Lighthouse becomes available for ownership under the provisions of the NHLPA.
2005: Lighthouse sold to Robert and Joan Gonsoulin of Williamsburg, VA, and Dan and Jackie Billingsley of Annapolis, MD for $31,000. Buyers invest approximately $200,000 to convert lighthouse to a vacation home. The light remains an active aid to navigation.
Note: This off-shore lighthouse can be seen from the King-Lincoln Park at the southern end of Jefferson Avenue in Newport News, Virginia.
Source: Bay Beacons by Linda Turbyville, Chapter website www.cheslights.org; the Lighthouse Directory (http:www.unc.edu/~rowlett/lighthouse/Va.htm) and April 2016 edition of Coastal Living magazine.