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Photo of the Week


"How shall we know it is us without our past?"
- John Steinbeck

by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian

Cedar Island Lighthouse, Sag Harbor, by Hal B. Fullerton, c. 1898. (From the Harry T. Tuthill Fullerton Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Image copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)

Standing between the South Fork and Shelter Island, Cedar Island posed a danger to ships entering and leaving Sag Harbor in the nineteenth century. The federal government thus purchased the island for $200 from the Town of East Hampton in 1838, and by 1839 had built the original Cedar Island Lighthouse on the north side of the island. By 1851 the light had an effective range of 12 miles. Its nine lamps cast their light from a height of 32 feet, leading whaling ships and fishing boats home to Sag Harbor.

Congress authorized a rebuilding of the lighthouse in 1867, and by 1868 a new L-shaped lighthouse with a square tower was standing on the island. It is shown here in our 1898 photograph by Hal B. Fullerton; although the structure still stands today, it is in need of restoration. In 1967, the lighthouse was purchased by Suffolk County to become part of Cedar Point County Park, but in 1974 it was severely damaged in a fire and boarded up. In 2017,  the Suffolk County Legislature approved $500,000 for the renovation of the lighthouse’s roof, exterior, and foundation pier.


The Suffolk County Historical Society’s PHOTO OF THE WEEK Series is created by head research librarian Wendy Polhemus-Annibell using historic primary source materials from our local history library’s extensive archives. To subscribe, visit our website or send an email request to Wendy at librarian@schs-museum.org 

Interested in seeing more historical documents from the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society? Spend an afternoon at our Local History Research Library perusing our extensive collections. We're open Weds. - Sat., 12:30 - 4:30 PM.

To view our Photo of the Week archives, visit our website at www.SuffolkCountyHistoricalSociety.org.



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The Suffolk County Historical Society, founded in 1886, collects and preserves the rich history of Suffolk County and beyond. We offer a history museum, art galleries, a research library and archives, and a multitude of exhibits, programs, and educational lectures and workshops year-round. Our unique collections reflect more than three centuries of Long Island history. Click here to learn about Member Benefits!


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