Port Clyde, one of the villages
that comprise the town of St. George, became a busy port in the 1800s
with granite quarries, tide mills for sawing timber, shipbuilding
facilities, and fish canning businesses. The area later became a magnet
for writers and artists. Sara Orne Jewett's popular book The
Country of the Pointed Firs was written in St. George.
Port Clyde's harbor, sheltered by Hooper Island (also known as
Hupper Island), was originally known as Herring Gut. Marshall Point,
Port Clyde's southernmost extremity, is at the east side of the
southern entrance to the harbor.
Marshall Point Light with the
original keeper's house, prior to 1895
U.S. Coast Guard photo
To help mariners entering Port Clyde's harbor or passing
to the west into Muscongus Bay, Congress appropriated $4000 for a light
station at Marshall Point in March 1831. The rubblestone lighthouse
tower, completed in 1832, was 20 feet high to the lantern deck.
The tower and adjacent one-and-one-half-story stone dwelling ere built
at a cost of $2973.17. The first keeper was John Watts, a veteran of
the War of 1812. Watts's son, Joshua, took over as keeper in 1835 and
stayed until 1839.
The extant 31-foot brick and granite lighthouse was
built in 1857. The cylindrical tower is 24 feet from its base to the
lantern deck. The lower half is constructed of granite, and the upper
half is brick. The new lighthouse was fitted with a fifth-order Fresnel
lens showing a fixed white light.
A bell tower with a 1,000-pound bell was added to the
station in 1898. The fog bell remained in use until it was replaced by
a horn in 1969.
U.S. Coast Guard photo
left: views of the station after the keeper's house was rebuilt in
The bell was returned to Marshall Point in the late
1980s and is now on display near the keeper's house.
The original 1832 keeper's house stood until 1895, when it was
destroyed by a fire caused by lightning.
The Colonial Revival house built that year still stands. It had a water
cistern that held 1,500 gallons; the cistern has since been removed
Charles Clement Skinner, a Maine native and Civil
War veteran, was the keeper from 1874 to 1919, an unusually long stint
at a single light station. Skinner's first wife, Alfreda (Colby), had
died in 1871, and he married Alfreda's younger sister Arvilla in the
same year he moved to Marshall Point.
Skinner's daughter, Eula Kelley, was born in the
first keeper's house in 1891. She lived until 1993, spending her last
years in a cottage nearby the light station.
Eula's sister, Marion Dalrymple, was born in the new
keeper's house in 1895. Both sisters attended the opening of the
restored keeper's house in 1990.
Keeper Charles Clement Skinner. Courtesy
of Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum.
The light was converted to electricity in 1935. When the
light was automated in 1971, the Fresnel lens was removed and replaced
by a modern plastic lens equipped with backup battery power. Also in
1971, a LORAN station was located in the keeper's house. This station
sent a 128,000 watt signal over a range of 14,000 square miles. In 1980
the equipment was outdated and the house was boarded up.
In 1986, the St. George Historical Society undertook the
restoration of the house. A committee raised money and the restoration
was completed in 1990. The first floor now houses the Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum.
The exhibits highlight area history as well as life at Marshall Point.
The second floor apartment was occupied from 1989 to
2002 by Lee Ann and Tom Szelog. Lee Ann wrote a letter to the St.
George Historical Society explaining why the couple should be chosen to
Tom Szelog is a photographer whose photos of Marshall
Point and other lighthouses have graced the covers of Down East and
other publications. He once said, "This is a remarkable place. Every
time I go out to take another picture I realize how lucky I am to live
Remember the scene in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump
when Tom Hanks ended his cross-country run at a lighthouse? That was
Marshall Point. A picture of Hanks at the lighthouse hangs in the
Bob Ensor and Jane Scarpino published a book about
Ensor's pet, Nellie the Lighthouse Dog, featuring Marshall
Point Light. The book and a sequel have been very popular.
The lighthouse is still an active Coast Guard aid to
navigation. Under the Maine Lights Program, the entire station,
including the lighthouse, became the property of the Town of St. George
in April 1998.
The original 1857 ventilator
ball and lightning rod are in the Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum.
You can visit the lighthouse and grounds all year; the museum
is open from May to October. You can also view Marshall Point Light
from the Port Clyde-Monhegan Island ferry.
For more information, or to help with the maintenance of
Marshall Point Light and the Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum, contact:
- Marshall Point
- Marshall Point Road
- P.O. Box 247
- Port Clyde, Maine 04855
- (207) 372-6450
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.)
John Watts (1832-1835); Joshua Watts (1835-1839); William Perry, Jr.
(1839-?); Daniel Bartlett (?-1843); William Battle (1843-1845); ?
Alexander (1845-1849); Samuel Hart (1849-1853); Orram Prescott
(1853-1857 and 1861-1868); Ruggles Tory (1857-1861); Seth B. Prescott
(1868-1874); Charles C. Skinner (1874-1919); Joseph M. Gray (c,
1920-1921); Edward H. Pierce (1923-1933); Charles Allen (1933-1946);
Wilson Carter (U.S. Coast Guard, 1946-1952); Ralph Banks (U.S. Coast
Guard, 1952-1963); ? (U.S. Coast Guard, 1963-1967), Rodney Drown (U.S.
Coast Guard, 1967-1968); Lewis Carmichael, Jr. (U.S. Coast
Guard,1968-1970); William Boddy (U.S. Coast Guard, 1970-1971).
This keeper's list is
displayed in the Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum.