West Chop Lighthouse, entrance of Vineyard Haven Harbor, Tisbury, Massachusetts
Originally built in 1847, current structure built in 1881.
WEST CHOP LIGHT
Location: ENTRANCE TO VINEYARD HAVEN HARBOR, MARHTA’S VINEYARD NEAR TISBURY, MASSACHUSETTS
Station Established: 1818
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1891
Foundation Materials: CONCRETE/STONE
Construction Materials: BRICK
Tower Shape: CYLINDRICAL
Markings/Pattern: WHITE WITH BLACK LANTERN
Relationship to Other Structure: SEPARATE
Original Lens: FOURTH ORDER FRESNEL
* On October 5, 1817 a 25-rubblestone tower was lit on West Chop. West Chop is one of the land masses that protect the harbor at Vineyard Haven in Martha’s Vineyard. The other land mass is known as East Chop. A stone dwelling was built as the keeper’s quarters.
* Due to erosion the station was rebuilt in 1846. A round tower and stone Cape-style keeper’s quarters were built about 1,000 feet southwest of the original location. The round tower was later covered with shingles which gave the tower an octagonal appearance. The shingles were supposed to cut down on leaks.
* In 1857 a second light was placed atop the keeper’s quarters. This was meant to replace a series of range lights that marked the entrance to the harbor.
* In 1882 a 1-½ story wood framed assistant keeper’s house was built. In 1888 the 1846 stone dwelling was removed and a second wooden house was built.
* By the 1890’s West Chop had become a popular retreat location and large houses were being built. These houses started to dwarf the lighthouse. A 17 foot mast with a light at the top was added to the tower. Finally the 1846 tower was replaced with a 45 foot tower in 1891. The tower was originally painted red but was painted white in 1896.
* The light was automated in 1976. It was the last light in Martha’s Vineyard to be automated. However, the original fourth order lens is still intact and in use in the light.
* The light is an active aid to navigation. The keeper’s house closest to the light is a residence for the Coast Guard. The second keeper’s quarters is a vacation home for members of all military branches.
Researched and written by Melissa Buckler, a volunteer through the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.