Cedar Island (Cedar Point) Lighthouse


Location: Cedar Point County Park, Northeast of Sag Harbor.


  • Original structure (1839):Wooden, contained Sixth Order Fresnel lens after 1855.

  • Existing structure (1868-1869): 35 feet, Boston granite style architecture, constructed of New England  granite; previously had Sixth Order Fresnel lens; tower is 4 stories tall, attached structure is  2 1/2 stories; foundation is granite, with a five foot wide walkway around structure, originally had a wrought iron railing around the foundation.

History of light:

  • 1837, March 3: Congress appropriates $1000 for the construction of a lighthouse on Cedar Island.

  • 1838, July 7: Another $2500 is appropriated.

  • 1838, August 13: East Hampton Town trustees agree to sell Cedar Island to the government.

  • 1838, August 20: The island is sold to the federal government for $200.

  • 1839: Original wooden lighthouse constructed.

  • 1855: The nine lamps with 14 inch reflectors are replaced by an Argand lamp and Sixth Order Fresnel lens.

  • 1867, March 2: $25,000 appropriated for construction of a new lighthouse.1868: Present structure built by a Massachusetts contractor.

  • 1869: The construction of the new light is completed.

  • 1882: "A fog-bell, struck by machinery, was established."

  • 1891: "The boathouse was moved and overhauled, a drive well was put down, and various repairs were made."

  • 1894: "A set of boatways were built."

  • 1899: "A set of fifth-order lamps were furnished and fitted. Various repairs were made."

  • 1903: 600 tons of riprap were put down.

  • 1904, August 10: 2000 tons of riprap were   put on the northern side of the light to ease the erosion of the island, which was down to less than one acre, from its original three acres.

  • 1904, December: Another 2000 tons of riprap were added.

  • 1906, September: Another 2000 tons of riprap were added.

  • 1908, January 24: A storm and high tide combined to cover most of the island with water and cause further erosion. The sturdy structure suffered no ill effects.

  • 1934: Deactivated.

  • 1936, June 22: A survey shows that the high water line has encroached almost halfway across the base of the light's stone pier. The size of the island is now .947 acres and a note on the survey tells us that the "size and shape of [the] island is continually changing as a result of erosion and accretion."

  • 1937: Lighthouse and surrounding acre bought at government auction by Phelan Beale, a Manhattan lawyer, for $2,002.00.

  • 1938, September 21: Hurricane created a sand bar between the island and the shore, turning Cedar Island into Cedar Point.

  • 1943: Sold to Isabelle Bradley.

  • 1967: Acquired by Suffolk County.

  • 1974: A fire heavily damaged the building The cause has been reported in at least one book and one newspaper article as vandalism. My sources, including a newspaper article from the day after it burned and two people who worked for the Suffolk County Parks Department at the time, suggest a different cause. I will be researching this more. The roof and oak interior were destroyed by the blaze. After the fire a new roof was installed and the doors and windows were sealed.

  • 2000, Summer: The Long Island Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society is formed. One of its prime projects will be to work to have the lighthouse and oil house stabilized in anticipation of a future restoration.

  • 2001, Summer: The Lighthouse Society and Suffolk County Department on Parks, Recreation and Conservation begin discussions about the light's future.

  • 2002, February - March: The Parks Department and Lighthouse Society negotiate, and sign, an agreement that allows the Society to act as a steward for the lighthouse. Both entities immediately begin planning for the project.

  • 2002, February: With the Society's assistance, the Parks Department applies for a grant that will allow for a thorough architectural assessment of the site.

  • 2002, March 23: The Society and Parks Department officially announce their partnership at a public press conference held at Cedar Point County Park. With the lighthouse in the background, US Congressman Felix Grucci; NY State Assemblyman Fred Thiele; Governor Pataki's regional representative, Steve Halsey; Suffolk County Parks Commissioner Peter Scully, Assistant Deputy Commissioner Judy Gordon; and Long Island Chapter President Robert Muller address a crowd of over 70 people. Also in attendance were State Senator LaValle's representative Ann Libassi, the Sag Harbor harbormaster, and representatives of the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum, and Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce. Afterward, 40 people walk out to the lighthouse to take a peek inside the lighthouse, which had been sealed for 28 years.

  • 2002, March 28: A representative from the NY State Historic Preservation Office visits the lighthouse to begin the process of nominating the lighthouse for the National Register of Historic Places. The State, County, and Society will work together to have the lighthouse listed.

  • 2002, September - The lighthouse is approved for inclusion on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

  • 2003, Spring - Initial work on the lighthouse includes sealing it up, removing toxic materials, and installing scaffolding on the interior to facilitate further work.

  • 2004, May - The 1902 oil house is completely restored to the 1920s-30s era.

  • 2004, November - An architectural assessment is conducted on the lighthouse by Walter Sedovic Associates. A written report will follow.

  • 2004, December - Harbour Lights announces that its replica of Cedar Island will debut in March 2005.

  • 2005, January -  The Long Island Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society arranges with Harbour Lights to sell 100 replicas, with all profits going to the preservation of the lighthouse.

Current use: Inactive and abandoned, but at the start of a preservation effort.

The surrounding area: Cedar Point County Park is a very nice park which happens to be on the way to the Montauk light. Bring your binoculars for birding and whatever shoes you prefer for walking along the sand to the lighthouse. For those of you who like birds, Morton National Wildlife Refuge is about fifteen minutes or so west of Cedar Point and is known for the friendly chickadees, nuthatches and titmice that will eat out of your hand. The historic Villages of Sag Harbor and East Hampton are nearby. Visit www.sagharborchamber.com for more information about local events and the Sag Harbor area.

Public access? Yes. Located on county park lands.

Similar Lights: The Saugerties Light on the Hudson River is similar, but is made of brick instead of granite blocks. The former lighthouses at Stuyvesant, Coxsackie, and Rondout Creek were also similar in design.

Other information: Was originally on Cedar Island, an island 200 yards offshore named for its cedar grove, which became a peninsula during a hurricane in September 1938. There are still cedar trees on the peninsula. The light's original purpose was to help whalers sail safely between Northwest Harbor and Gardiner's Bay. The overall shape of the present structure, including the roofline and tower, is very similar to the Saugerties light on the Hudson River. The Saugerties light, however, is made of brick, while the Cedar Island light is granite. The original wooden lighthouse was located about 140 feet Northeast of the present light.


Cedar Island Lighthouse on June 6, 1999



















































































Research materials for this lighthouse can be found at the East Islip Public Library, East Islip, New York.
Visit the Cedar Island Photo Gallery.
View details of a June 26, 1999 Trip to Cedar Island Lighthouse.
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