New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide
Marshall Point Light
Port Clyde, Maine
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History

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.

19th century photo
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. 

lighthouse, bell tower and keeper's house
old photo
U.S. Coast Guard photo
(Above and left: views of the station after the keeper's house was rebuilt in 1895.)

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.
door to 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 be "keepers."

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 here."

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 museum.

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.

ventilator ball and other exhibits

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 Lighthouse Museum
Marshall Point Road
P.O. Box 247
Port Clyde, Maine 04855
(207) 372-6450
 

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 nelights@gmail.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).
sign listing keepers
This keeper's list is displayed in the Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum.
 
Last updated 11/11/10
Jeremy D'Entremont. Do not reproduce any images or text from this website without permission of the author.

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