Bass River Lighthouse

Nov. 5, 2019

Bass River Lighthouse, Bass River, West Dennis, Massachusetts

Built in 1855.


Station Established: 1855
First Lit: May 1,1855
Operational: Yes
Automated: Yes- Aug. 7, 1989
Deactivated: 1914 – 1989
Foundation Material: Brick
Construction Material: Iron tower on wooden house
Tower Shape: Conical tower on dwelling roof
Markings: White with red trim
Relationship to Other Structures: Integral 
Original Lens:1855
Tower Height:44 feet
Range: – 12 miles
Original Optic: Fifth Order Fresnel Lens 
Present Optic: 300 mm
Characteristics: FlW6s – Flashing white every 6 seconds
First Keeper: Walter Crowell
Current Use: Private aid to navigation during the summer season
Fog Signal: None

Historical Information:

* Bass River Light was built to mark the small harbor at the mouth of Bass River. It guided navigation crossing Nantucket Sound.
* From 1746 to 1866 there was heavy navigation that sailed Nantucket Sound. There was a profitable Fishing and Whaling Industry. The 1st Federal government survey determined that a light was not needed.
* A small private lighthouse or beacon was built on a jetty near West Dennis Beach. It guided local mariners along the mouth of the Bass River. The local mariners paid $.25 a month to buy oil for the lantern. Warren Cromwell tended this lantern. It was placed in the window of his attic. 
* In 1850 a petition was sent to Congress that requested a lighthouse at the Breakwater of the Bass River. So Congress appropriated $4000 to build a lighthouse n the town of West Dennis.
* In 1854 a 1-½ story house white house with a tower and lantern was built. A fifth order fresnel lens was lit in 1855. Warren Crowell became the first light keeper.
* In 1880 the lighthouse determined that the Bass river light was not needed after Stage Harbor Light was established in Chatham. Bass river light was sold. After numerous complaints the government brought back Bass river light and it was relit in 1881. Captain Samuel Adams was appointed the light keeper.
* After the Cape Cod Canal was opened the Bass River light was deactivated in 1914. The canal redirected most of the boat traffic away from Nantucket and towards Buzzard Bay. The lens was removed and replaced by an automated beacon on a skeletal tower at the entrance to the river.
* Bass River light and the property were sold at auction. Harry K. Noyer bought the lighthouse as a summer home. He expanded the main house. After his death the property remained vacant for 5 years.
* In 1938 State Senator Everett Stone bought the property with the lighthouse. The family expanded the house and it became known as the Lighthouse Inn.
* On Aug. 7 1989- National Lighthouse Day the light was relight as a private aid to navigation. It commemorated the 200th anniversary of The Lighthouse Service.
* The light is lit from May 1 thru October 31. It is recognized by the Coast Guard as The West Dennis Light.

Researched and written by Linda Herman, a volunteer through the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.