William Brown, master of the 320-foot steamer Bay State, chimed in with his own forceful letter. "Those of us who have to pass through this strait on dark and stormy nights," Brown wrote, "or else are brought to a stand in the attempt to grope our way through, realize that, as it is now, we are subjected frequently to a responsibility more weighty than ought to be placed on any one."
The Lighthouse Board heeded the pleas, and Congress appropriated $1,500 on August 3, 1854, for a combined lighthouse and dwelling. Suitable land for the station was soon bought for $100 from George Pearse. A modest one-and-one-half-story brick dwelling was constructed, with a square 28-foot lighthouse tower attached to its southern end. The wooden lantern held a sixth-order Fresnel lens showing a fixed white light, first exhibited on October 4, 1855.
George Pearse briefly served as the lighthouse's first keeper until the appointment of Henry Diman of Bristol in December 1855. Diman died only eight months later and was replaced by his widow, Elizabeth Diman. She, too, died the following February and was succeeded by Daniel W. Coggeshall, another Bristol native, who remained for four years.
Some nineteenth-century keepers' logs from this lighthouse are in the collection of the Bristol Historical Society. Here are some sample entries:
Edward Sherman had the longest stay as keeper, from 1886 to 1914. There was a dampness problem in the tower when Sherman arrived that sometimes caused the oil lamp's glass globe to crack. Sherman devised a metal plate above the lamp, putting a stop to the problem.
The interior was gutted, and new electrical and plumbing systems were installed. An upstairs bathroom that had been added previously was converted to a bedroom, and a small deck was added outside the master bedroom across the hall. The first floor of the tower was converted into a bathroom with ceramic tile and a glassed-in shower, a development that might have shocked the early keepers who relied on an outdoor privy.
Bob and Carol Lundin moved into the lighthouse after Bob's retirement in 1996. "We always thought it would be so romantic to live in a lighthouse," says Carol. "And it was!" To top off the renovations, a new lantern was fabricated and installed, and the lighthouse once again looked like a lighthouse. A light was added for show, coming on for two hours each evening on a timer.
Despite their love for the lighthouse, the Lundins decided to downscale their lifestyle; they sold the property in early 2000.
You can read much more about this lighthouse in the book The Lighthouses of Rhode Island by Jeremy D'Entremont.
Keepers: (This list is a work in progress. If you have any information on the keepers of this lighthouse, I'd love to hear from you. You can email me at email@example.com. Anyone copying this list onto another web site does so at their own risk, as the list is always subject to updates and corrections.)
George Pearse (1855); Henry Diman (1855-1856); Elizabeth Diman (1856); D. W. Coggleshall (1857-1861); C. Sanford (1861-1870); George T. Gladding (1870-1871); James W. Waldron (1871-1875); William Dunwell (1875-1882); Edward P. Hoxsie (1882-1886); Edward Sherman (1886-1914); ? Baldwin (?)