The East End Lighthouse in Lewes is shining brighter than ever, thanks to restoration efforts over the pandemic.
Work on the historical breakwater lighthouse was completed this past December, with work lasting throughout the Summer of 2020.
Delaware’s Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs did structural repairs on the 136-year-old building and had it repainted. New windows were added, along with pylon restructuring and extensive ironwork. Extensive rust removal was also part of the task.
Initially going into service in 1885 and decommissioned in 1996, the lighthouse is an iconic Lewes landmark. But with time comes wear and then disrepair, and the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs stepped in to preserve the structure for future generations to enjoy.
There is no public access to the East End Lighthouse. However, Cape Water Tours and Taxi out of Lewes charters trips to the structure.
The structure has a shiny coat of reddish brown, black and white paint. The inside still smells of the oil needed to keep the light lit during its early days. Most of the rust is gone off the walls inside and a historical plaque commemorates the importance of the structure.
Standing at 45 feet tall, the lighthouse sits on a man-made breakwater, creating a safe harbor for ships during a storm. When it was a working lighthouse, it proved vital for ships and boats to know where they were at sea.
The breakwater was initially commissioned by Congress and President John Quincy Adams in 1825. Each massive stone was painstakingly brought down from a New York ,quarry and hand-laid into the structure.
On the tours, curators provide historical narration and information about the lighthouse and breakwater.
Guests can get out off tour boats and explore the lighthouse, including climbing metal rungs for the remarkable view from the top.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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