Sands Point (The Mitchill Light) Lighthouse


Sands Point.

Description: 80 feet; stone octagonal tower four feet thick at the base, made of brown stone, iron staircase, four windows on the south side of the tower; light originally exhibited white flashes but this was changed to a fixed white light to avoid confusion with the Execution Rocks light; keeper's house was colonial style, made of brick, 2 1/2 stories tall.

History of light:

  • 1790: Samuel L. Mitchell and Samuel Wood survey the site.

  • 1805: While aboard the the Revenue Cutter Active, commanded by Captain Caleb Brewster, Dr. Mitchell discussed the idea of having a light at the point and sent petitions around the ship. These petitions were then forwarded to Congress.

  • 1806, January 26: Bill enacted by Congress to erect a light on Sands Point.

  • 1806: Five acres bought by Governor Tompkins for the light from Benjamin Hewlett. Cost reported to be $512.50.

  • 1809: Tower completed. Reports as to the actual contractor vary. Some say it was Noah Mason; others say A. Woodward. The truth may be that Mason built the tower and Woodward outfitted the tower with the lantern room and lighting apparatus.

  • 1809, September 11:  Noah Mason, a sea captain and Revolutionary War veteran from New London,  became the first keeper and served as such until his death in 1841.

  • 1814, September 10: Keeper Noah Mason watched a (War of 1812) naval battle between the British frigate Acosta and thirty American gunboats from the tower.

  • 1841, February 27: Noah Mason dies at age 85.

  • 1868: Keeper's house added.

  • 1904, September 10: The Port Washington News reports that, "Light Keeper (Cornelius) Douglass recently visited Captain R. O. McKensie, Inspector Light House District at Staten Island."

  • 1916: Keeper Douglas dies at age 70 after having served as keeper for 22 years.

  • 1922, June 14: Due to complaints from the Belmonts, across whose property visitors to the light had to cross, Keeper Thomas J. Murray received official notice from the 3rd District Superintendent of Lighthouses that he is no longer allowed to have visitors at the station on Sundays or holidays. This included "all visitors, whether they be personal friends of yourself or family or otherwise."

  • 1922, December: Deactivated. Light and lantern room removed from tower (current lantern is a replica of original).

  • 1923, April 25: Letter from Governor Alfred E. Smith to the Department of Commerce gets auction of light and surrounding property postponed from May 2nd to November 2nd. Governor Smith had hoped to acquire the land as a park.

  • 1924, February 1: Port Washington News reports that property bought at auction by Mrs. Oliver H. P. Belmont for $100,000.

  • 1927: Bought by William Randolph Hearst for $400,000.

  • 1940: Title transferred to Dime Savings Bank to pay off mortgage.

  • 1943: Purchased by Edmund G. Burke.

  • 1992, October 27: Village of Sands Point and the Landmarks Commission designated the lighthouse as a village landmark.

Current use: Inactive. Located on private property.

The surrounding area: Sands Point is located north of Port Washington.

Public access? No.

Similar Lights: I know of no lights with a similar design.

Other information: Light was built for $8,500. Light was sometimes called the Mitchell Lighthouse, after the man who fought to have it constructed.

Sands Point Lighthouse
photo courtesy of Jim Crowley;  see more of Jim's work at


























Research materials for this lighthouse can be found at the East Islip Public Library, East Islip, New York.
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