I recently took a boat tour of South Carolina's Winyah Bay. The tour included a visit to North Island and its Georgetown Lighthouse. I was so impressed with the history of the place that I decided to paint a picture of the lighthouse for my local landmark series.
Her's my rendition of the Georgetown Lighthouse.
and here's a photo from the University of North Carolina of the the lighthouse.
By way of background....Georgetown Harbor, located in Wynyah Bay between North and South Islands, is the second largest seaport in South Carolina. Safe passage into the harbor is now, and as it always has been, critical to the local economy. In 1789, Revolutionary War Patriot Paul Trapier donated a tract of land on North Island for the establishment of the Georgetown Lighthouse. (aka North Island Lighthouse.) The seventy-two-foot, pyramidal tower, constructed of Cypress wood, was finished in the early part of 1801 Besides the tower, a two-story keeper’s dwelling was built along with a tank for holding the whale oil that fueled the lighthouse’s lamp. The wooden tower’s life was cut short by a violent storm in 1806.
Several years passed before a replacement structure was built. A marble plaque positioned above the door records the names of those who undertook the work on the tower and records the year of its erection as 1811. This time the seventy-two-foot tower was constructed of brick, greatly reducing the chance that those big, bad gales which plague the area (aka hurricanes) would blow the lighthouse down. The staircase that spirals upwards inside the stout brick tower is made of stone. In 1857, the tower was modified to display a fourth-order Fresnel lens.
When the Civil War broke out, the Confederates used the Georgetown Lighthouse as a lookout station, until Union forces captured it in May of 1862. The lighthouse was heavily damaged during the North-South conflict, and as part of the post-war repair work, the tower was heightened to eighty-seven feet. The Georgetown Lighthouse was manned until 1986, when the Coast Guard automated the light.
As stipulated in the will of former Boston Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey, South Island and all of North Island, save the lighthouse acreage, was bequeathed to the South Carolina Heritage Trust, creating the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Preserve. In 2001, the lighthouse property was added to the preserve. This is a rare early federal lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and with it now under state control, the tower will hopefully be restored and one day open to the public. The 1-story brick keeper's house, brick oilhouse (1890), and boathouse (1894) are also preserved