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Friends of Wood Island Light

Wood Island Lighthouse dwelling house and barn, Biddeford, ca. 1859

Contributed by Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse
MMN Item 16416 Item Details
Wood Island Lighthouse dwelling house and barn, Biddeford, ca. 1859
MMN Item 16416 Zoom


The federal government bought land at the east end of Wood Island in Saco Bay in 1806 and built a lighthouse, commissioned by Thomas Jefferson, in 1808.

This photo of Wood Island Lighthouse was taken in about 1859, as part of the first photographic survey of lighthouses during the early days when they were administered by the Lighthouse Board under the U.S. Lighthouse Service.

The house on the left is the keeper's dwelling house and it is the third one built since the establishment of Wood Island Light Station. The first was constructed of wood in 1808. It rotted out by the 1830s. A rubble stone house was then built and finished ca. 1839. In 1857 this wood dwelling house was built to replace the stone house.

The barn had been built in about the 1840s by Keeper Abraham Norwood.

Wood Island Light Station has historically been a lighthouse operated by a keeper and his family. In the early days they were farmers who raised animals and hay to feed them.

The granite tower that is seen in this photo remained as of 2005. The original tower was built of wood, rebuilt in 1838 and some reconstruction took place in 1858 in order to house the new fourth order Fresnel lens. The photo resides in the Coast Guard Historian's Office in Washington, D.C.

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