The History of Judith Point Lighthouse

Rhode Island is rich with history. Many colonial buildings still exist, allowing visitors to step back in time and imagine life through the eyes of early settlers. In Narragansett, there are many museums and historical attractions for the whole family. Narragansett tours are also available for a more informed understanding of the area. One of the most iconic landmarks of Narragansett, however, is Judith Point Light, a sight which can’t be missed! 

Judith Point Lighthouse

History

Point Judith marks the entrance to Narragansett Bay to the north and Block Island Sound to the south. Before English settlers arrived, the area was predominantly inhabited by the Narragansett tribe. No one is quite sure how Point Judith got its name, though several legends abound: It was named after the wife or mother-in-law of a merchant or after the Biblical Tribe of Judah. Some of the area’s secrets may never be fully known!

What we do know is that the first lighthouse at Point Judith was constructed in 1810 for $5,000. Before this, a day beacon had been used to guide maritime traffic along the treacherous passage past Point Judith. Unfortunately, this first lighthouse was destroyed in a hurricane in 1815. A second lighthouse was built the following year.

In 1862, Joseph Whaley arrived as a lighthouse keeper with a yearly salary of $350. His descendants were to continue his work for nearly half a century. Maritime traffic was very heavy in the area, which made the work demanding. In addition, the keepers were required to show any visitors around the lighthouse. During the summer, 200 or more visitors might arrive on any given day. 

In 2000, Point Judith Light underwent a major restoration. It was repainted, and windows and lantern panels were replaced, among other changes. Today, it remains an active Coast Guard station. The grounds are currently closed to the public, though you are still welcome to drop by and see the lighthouse! Visitors are welcome to part outside the station and take a walk to the shore where there is a perfect photographic view.

point judith

Why It Is Worth A Visit

Besides being an important part of local history, Point Judith is a beautiful location. And though the lighthouse and Coast Guard station are off-limits to the public, the grounds around it are perfect for an afternoon stroll with the family. As the lighthouse is such an iconic part of Narragansett’s history, a visit to the area can’t be missed! 

Interesting Facts

Point Judith, which protrudes over a mile into the Atlantic, has plagued seafarers since Europeans first visited North America. It is infamous as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.”

It was also the site of the final Atlantic wartime act of World War II. On May 4, 1945, Hitler’s successor sent out messages to German U-Boats to cease and desist. A few boats did not receive this message immediately, however, and on May 5, a coal transport ship passed Judith Point on its way to Boston. It was blown up by U-853, which was discovered and sunk later that day.

General Information

Point Judith Light is just a short drive from the restaurants and beaches of Narragansett. Visitors can walk around grassy grounds, have a picnic, and explore the coastline. Free parking is outside the Coast Guard station next to an abandoned property with an accessible beachfront. It is located at 1470 Ocean Road. 

Narragansett Beach

Other Things to Do Nearby

Point Judith is just a few minutes’ drive from most of the main attractions of Narragansett. Combine your trip with a visit to Scarborough South State Beach or Roger W. Wheeler State Beach. You might also head to one of Narragansett’s many fabulous restaurants, such as Spain of Narragansett. 

Narragansett Vacation Rentals

If Point Judith Light inspires you to spend more time near the sea, then consider booking one of our beach house rentals in Narragansett. We offer some of the best Rhode Island vacation rentals, and for those who love the area enough to stay longer, we have houses for rent. Plan your next trip to Narragansett, Rhode Island, and Point Judith Light today!

Durkin Cottage Realty

815 Pt. Judith Rd.
Narragansett, RI 02882

Phone: 401-789-6659
Fax: 401-789-6705
info@durkincottages.com

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