Boston Light, America’s First Lighthouse: 300 years of history now lighting the way to the future

(c) Lighthouse friends 



The first lighthouse established in America was on Little Brewster Island in Boston Harbor and was first lit on September 14, 1716. A tonnage tax of 1 penny per ton on all vessels, except coasters, moving in or out of Boston Harbor, paid for maintaining the light. In 1774 the British took over the island and in 1775 the harbor was blocked and the lighthouse became useless. When the British left Boston in 1776, they also left behind a time charge which blew up the lighthouse completely. In 1783 the Massachusetts Legislature supplied £1,450 to erect a new lighthouse on the site of the old. In 1859, the height of the tower was raised to 89 feet and a second-order Fresnel lens was installed. The optic remains in use to this day.

To recognize the Light's historic significance, and to ensure that it can be seen, heard, and valued for generations to come; Congress included in the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 1989 that Boston Light be operated on a permanently manned basis and that the Coast Guard be authorized and encouraged to undertake efforts to "enhance the public enjoyment and appreciation of Boston Light and Little Brewster Island." The Light was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964, and Little Brewster Island itself became part of the National Park Service's Boston Harbor Island National Recreational Area in 1996.

Throughout its nearly 300 years, Boston Light ( America's first lighthouse and its last manned lighthouse, commonly and affectionately referred to as "America's Lighthouse" ) continues to serve the nation's maritime community, guiding ships of all sizes safely into the port of Boston. 


Boston Light Tricentennial Planning Group:

BHI Boston Light Tricentennial Planning Group is co-chaired by the Coast Guard, National Park Service, and the Boston Harbor Island Alliance and is regularly attended by Coast Guard Auxiliary, Friends of Boston Harbor Islands, City of Boston, Boston Marine Society, Hull Lifesaving Museum. The mission of this planning group is to honor the 300-year service and iconic value of Boston Light to the Coast Guard's maritime heritage through the organization, planning, funding, management, and execution of all activities associated with the tricentennial celebration. A secondary yet parallell Coast Guard planning group is co-chaired by Coast Guard Sector Boston and the Coast Guard’s First District under a charter established by the First District Commander, RDML Daniel Abel with membership from Sector Boston, the First District,  Atlantic Area, and Headquarters. Both meetings meet every other month to discuss tercentennial planning progress related to outreach and partnerships, improvement projects, promotional activities, yearlong events, and the ceremony.

It is expected that this event will draw national attention bringing awareness of how Boston Light has, continues, and will always remain a pillar of safety and beacon of our maritime history and maritime future. While the event is generally confined within the Massachusetts Bay area, there is also a need for nationwide stakeholder collaboration and ownership throughout all aspects of this event. Planning, management, and execution of Coast Guard and community events of this nature requires a unique set of skills, experience, and technical knowledge and will require dedicated cross programmatic commitment.

The membership of the Boston Light Tricentennial Planning Group has been carefully crafted to help succeed in addressing the many opportunities that lie ahead. Both groups are currently active and shall remain so until completion of the tricentennial events in the summer of 2016.


Ongoing Lighthouse Projects in Preparation of the 2016 Tricentennial:


- Underground storage tank remediation  

- New Sewage treatment plant [Completed]

- Temporary roof repairs [Completed] 

- New exterior coating to the lighthouse

- New cedar roofs on all structures at Light Station Boston

- New windows in the lighthouse keeper’s quarters

- Painting of all structures at Light Station Boston


Tricentennial Project Team Members: 


CDR Jason Smith

US Coast Guard Sector Boston

Project Coordinator and Co-Chair

CAPT Ed Marohn

US Coast Guard Sector Boston

Coast Guard Co-Chair

Mr. Giles Parker

National Park Service

Boston Harbor Island Co-Chair

Mr. Phil Griffiths

Boston Harbor Island Alliance

Boston Harbor Island Co-Chair

Dr. Sally Snowman

US Coast Guard Sector Boston

Lighthouse Keeper and Historian

LTJG Rebecca Miller

US Coast Guard Sector Boston

Project Officer

MST2 Samantha Stone

US Coast Guard Sector Boston

Operations Officer

YN2 Dominick Letourneau

US Coast Guard Sector Boston

Logistics Officer


For more information on the Boston Light please contact us at (617) 223-5445 or via email at



Additional information on the Boston Light and its Tricentennial can be found at: 

History of the Boston Light 

Media Outreach and Announcements

Follow the Life of the Assistant Keeper