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Point Judith Lighthouse and Coast Guard Station

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1857. 1470 Ocean Rd. (end of Ocean Rd.)
  • (Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress)
  • (Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress)

Point Judith is the place where the mostly eastfacing coast of the biggest chunk of the state abruptly shifts to face south. Its lighthouse was the third established in the state, after Beavertail and the Watch Hill, and the existing light in this is the third on the point, preceded by towers completed in 1810 and 1815. These exemplify the development of typical lighthouse structures. The first, of wood, lasted less than five years before a gale took it down. The second, of rubble coated with cement, lasted fortytwo years. The present tower of cut granite blocks fitted to its polygonal and tapering shape represented standard building technology for lighthouses by the mid-nineteenth century, although the first such tower in the state was built as early as 1823, at the north end of Goat Island in Newport Harbor. Point Judith is 51 feet high, with a 24-foot spread at the base tapering to 13 feet and a typical cast iron lantern cupola surrounded by a metal-railed balcony at the top. The keeper's dwelling, originally attached by a passageway to the tower, was torn down after automation in 1954. A scattering of utilitarian Coast Guard structures completes the photographer's composition.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Point Judith Lighthouse and Coast Guard Station", [Narragansett, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 373-373.

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