New Jersey’s Romer Shoal Lighthouse has been sold for $90,000 at a government auction to Staten Island, New York businessman John Scalia who says he intends to restore the historic structure, which he estimates will cost him another $80,000.
Because the structure is located in New York’s harbor, many people think the lighthouse is within the boundaries of New York, when in fact it is in New Jersey waters. It is widely respected that the Romer Shoal Lighthouse was originally built at the Lighthouse Depot on Staten Island in 1883 and moved to its current offshore location in 1898. When the failed National Lighthouse Museum was started, there was talk of moving the rusted out hulk back to the mainland for display on the museum property. Now that the failed museum project has been revived, Scalia would like to see tours take place to visit the lighthouse once it is restored.
The lighthouse has a bit of a storied past. One of its early keepers mysteriously disappeared. At first it was thought that he had drowned. Then it was reported that he might have been murdered by another lighthouse keeper. However, the case went cold and eventually fell silent in the dusty pages of time.
Tragedy stuck the lighthouse again shortly after the Great War. In 1919 the U.S. Navy took over the lighthouse and assigned six signalmen to live in the lighthouse. Their job was to report hourly ship traffic in the harbor. When a Navy vessel was delivering supplies to the lighthouse in 1920, the wake from the larger vessel swamped the station’s small boat, causing it to capsize and drown one of the sailors. Shortly after that the lighthouse went back to the Lighthouse Service and in 1939 it came under Coast Guard control.
In 1966 the lighthouse was automated and its keepers were removed. In 1997 the rusting metal roof over the lower deck was removed, giving the lighthouse a much different look.
This story appeared in the
Nov/Dec 2011 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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