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Concord Point Lighthouse

Nov. 5, 2019
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Concord Point Lighthouse, Chesapeake Bay, Havre de Grace, Maryland

CONCORD POINT LIGHT

Location:  Waterfront, Havre de Grace, MD, marking the meeting of the Susquehanna River and the northern tip of the Chesapeake Bay.
Date Built:  Commissioned 1827
Type of Structure:  Stone tower with detached keepers dwelling
Height:  38 feet above mean high water
Characteristics:  Fixed white light privately shown (not an active ATON)
Foghorn:  No
Builder:  John Donahoo
Appropriation:  $4,000
Range:  8 miles
Status:  Standing, but decommissioned 

Historical Information:  

  • Congress initially appropriated $2,500 for construction and outfitting of a light and keepers dwelling at Concord Point. After a fair amount of difficulty, the government gained title to a small plot of land for the tower in 1826. However, due to commercial use of the waterfront, land for the keepers dwelling had to be purchased further inland. The appropriation proved inadequate, and another $1,500 was added the next year. John Donahoo, who had built other Bay lights and was also a native of Havre de Grace, was the low bidder at $3,500 and was awarded the contract. ($493 went for purchase and setup of the lighting apparatus.) Both the conical stone tower, built of Port Deposit granite and coated with “Roman cement”, and a one story keepers dwelling were completed by November of 1827. The original lighting apparatus consisted of 9 lamps, each with a 16 inch reflector.
  • The first keeper was an Irish immigrant named John O’Neill who was appointed by President John Quincy Adams. O’Neill was a local hero. During the War of 1812, as a local militia lieutenant he had single-handedly manned 3 cannons in the face of a British bombardment after the 50 men he was in charge of fled. Eventually he, too, had to flee the approaching British, firing back at them with his musket as he retreated. Several of O’Neill’s descendents followed in his footsteps as keepers of this light.
  • In 1855 the original lamps and reflectors were replaced with a steamer’s lens.
  • In 1869 a sixth order Fresnel lens was exhibited. The lantern was also replaced with a more modern design either at this time, or a year or two before.
  • In 1884 the keepers dwelling was expanded with the addition of a second story.
  • In 1891 the sixth order lens was replaced by a fifth order Fresnel lens.
  • In 1920 the light was electrified and the keepers dwelling sold. (It became an inn for a while.)
  • In 1975 the light was decommissioned by the Coast Guard and the Fresnel lens was stolen. Four years later, local citizens formed the Friends of Concord Point Lighthouse and took over maintenance of this historic landmark. The tower has been restored and is now open to the public on a seasonal basis. They have also bought the keepers dwelling and plans are going forward to restore it. The (unrelated) Havre de Grace Maritime Museum is set to open its new facility half a block up the road in June of 2001. 

Researched and written by Matthew B. Jenkins, a volunteer through the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Light House Society.