America's Best History Spotlight

On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.

Block Island Lighthouse

Block Island Lighthouse, Rhode Island

It might be the most unique lighthouse in the United States, this Block Island structure along the Mohegan Bluffs that rests on the island of the same name in the shipping lanes of the Atlantic Ocean in Rhode Island. It was built as the pride of the U.S. Lighthouse Bureau in 1874. Today the lighthouse can be visited in the summer for lighthouse tours. It is known as the Southeast light. It has a sibling on the north called the North light. Photo above: Stereoscope of Block Island Lighthouse, 1890. Historic American Buildings Survey. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Info, What's There Now, History Nearby

Block Island Lighthouse

Block Island Southeast Lighthouse

The Southeast Light was commissioned to be built in 1856, but the funds diverted to build a new North Light damaged by storm. When the light was first lit in 1875, the structure was a Gothic Revival masterpiece. While its function was the same as other lighthouses atop its sixty-seven foot tower, the building was brick, and just plain looks different, some of which comes from the two keeper's houses, one for the keeper himself, and the other for his assistants, that is attached.

Today, in summer, you can tour the lighthouse and hear stories of its function, construction in 1874, move in 1993, and the shipwrecks that occurred off Block Island over the years. Ask where the lighthouse used to be. Prior to 1993, it was three hundred feet closer to the bluff. Today there's a boulder that marks the original spot.

Photo above: Block Island Southeast Lighthouse, 2015, Brett Weinstein. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Where Is It

Block Island is just that, an island located 1.2 miles southeast off the coast of Rhode Island. It can only be visited by boat or plane. Just over one thousand people live there full-time. For most, they will take a ferry from Port Judith. There is summer service from Newport and Fall River, Rhode Island; New London, Connecticutt; and Montauk, New York.

What is There Now

The Southeast Light, keeper's quarters, and spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. There's also a small museum and gift shop.

How Much to Visit
Adults $10.00. Seniors and Children $5.00.

Block Island Ferry (Year Round with Vehicle Access) - Adult Round Trip - $25.95, Seniors Round Trip - $24.95, Children (5-11) Round Trip - $12.95. Prices are slightly lower for single day travel. Vehicle Access Round Trip, Standard Car - $79.20. Advance reservation required for vehicles.

Hours Open
The lighthouse is open in the summer. Times and dates vary by season. Check with the lighthouse for the current schedule.

Block Island Southeast Light

Visit Block Island

Block Island Ferry

History Nearby

There's more than just the Southeast Light on Block Island. Other attractions include a variety of beaches for fishing and bathing, the North Light, and a walking tour in Old Harbor that includes eight stops, a Visitor Center, the 1661 Inn Farm and Gardens, and the Solviken Preserve. If you've got a bike or car, there's more to see, including the Abrams Animal Farm and the Spring House Hotel. Of course, off the island, there's the larger attractions of Plymouth Rock and Boston not too far afield.

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