Delaware To Begin Renovation Of Fenwick Lighthouse Keeper’s House

Delaware To Begin Renovation Of Fenwick Lighthouse Keeper’s House
An extensive rehabilitation of the exterior of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse’s keeper house is planned to continue through the summer.

FENWICK ISLAND – Rehabilitation work on a lighthouse keeper’s residence is expected to begin this month in Fenwick Island.

Beginning this spring and continuing throughout the summer, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will conduct rehabilitation work on the exterior of the keeper’s house at the Fenwick Island Lighthouse.

The house, located to the left of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse complex on 146th Street, was constructed in 1882 and has undergone extensive renovations and additions in years past.

The rehabilitation project will involve the removal of modern additions, construction of a new porch and new wooden steps and landings, replacement of existing windows, repair of miscellaneous wood trim and wood-shingle siding, exterior painting and the re-laying of the existing brick sidewalk, according to a press release from the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. Future improvement plans call for the provision of access to the first floor of the building for people with disabilities, improved pedestrian circulation on the exterior and connectivity to the lighthouse property.

Following the rehabilitation, state officials said the building will be used by the New Friends of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse to provide information about the history of the lighthouse and the role played by the light keepers in addition to providing public access to the lighthouse.

Winnie Lewis, president of New Friends of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse, said the state purchased the house in recent years with plans to turn the residence into a museum.

“They are doing this for preservation of the house, so we can display things and people can visit,” she said.

Lewis noted the lighthouse complex has played a vital role in the development of Fenwick Island.

“It’s something that is very important to the people of Fenwick Island,” she said. “Nobody would be in Fenwick Island if not for the lighthouse.”

The Fenwick Island Lighthouse was built in 1858 to protect shipping from the Fenwick sand shoals that extend several miles out from the Delaware coast. It began service in 1859 and continued in operation without interruption for nearly 120 years until Dec. 13, 1978, when it was decommissioned by the U. S. Coast Guard. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Due to a grassroots effort, ownership of the property was transferred to the state of Delaware in 1981, and the lighthouse was re-lit in 1982 as an unofficial, private aid to navigation.

Lewis said she was excited to see the keeper’s house return to its former state.

“It’s a wonderful thing to have happen,” she said.

Lewis said the lighthouse itself will remain open throughout the rehabilitation project. The lighthouse will open in late May and will operate Thursday through Monday from 9 a.m. to noon.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.