New Point Comfort Lighthouse

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New Point Comfort Keepers House 1806History Titile

New Point Comfort Keepers House circa 1806

The original two-story lighthouse keeper's dwelling was built during the construction of the lighthouse, 1803-1805. There are no known images or building plans of the original dwelling, however, Elzy Burrows provided the following wriiten description in his original proposal to build the New Point Comfort Lighhouse. "Also a two story brick dwelling house, twenty eight feet by 18 in the clear, the first story to be 8 feet pitch in the clear, the second story to be 7 feet, and a square roof: the wall up to the water table to be 2 1/2 bricks thick, the first story two bricks, the second story and gable ends 1 1/2 brick thick: five brick chimneys, panel doors and frames with good locks and hinges to each, 13 twelve light windows of 10 by 12 glass, besides 4 light windows of 8 x 10 glass in the garret; two rooms below on the first floor and three on the second floor, four of such rooms are to have fireplaces; two entries or passages (on each story) the floor above and below to have a proper number of sleepers and joist for receiving the plank which is to be 1 1/2 inch heart pine. A neat staircase with handrail to run up the passages, the room passages to have wall and chair boards. Also a brick kitchen to be placed at the distance of not less than 6 feet from the house, with a covered way between, which shall have one panel door and one window in it: the kitchen to have a chimney with one fireplace, two panel doors with good hinges & locks and two windows; the floor to be of 1 1/2 inch heart pine. The house and kitchen to have a common bow cornice and a proper number of rafters covered with laths and good cypress singles: the partition lathed and pastered and finished, the trimmers turned and hearths, and the wood work inside and out to be well painted the number of doors and windows both in the dwelling house & kitchen may be increased or diminished at the discretion of the person who may be authorized by the Secretary of the Treasury to mark out the site for the buildings and to inspect the materials and work. A well to be sunk and stoned or bricked at a convenient distance from the house, to be furnished with a curb and the necessary apparatus for drawing water."


Burroughs "let out" the building of the dwelling house, kitchen and covered way to his friend Samuel Stubbs, who unfortuanately was taken ill and confined to bed for six weeks while it was being built. During which time his helpers spoiled a number of bricks by improperly firing them. This, the severely cold winter season, as well as other unknown reasons delayed the completion of the house until the following April, 1806.


The lighthouse and dwelling were severly damaged by the British during the War of 1812. On April 15, 1815, Elzy Burrows received a contract for repairing lighthouses in Virginia and to build another keepers house at New Point New Point Comfort Frame Keepers House  1840Comfort at a cost of $3,333.00.


In 1836 the keeper's house was "unworthy of repair" and it was "expedient" to errect a new house for the resident. The house was white-washed wood frame with a brick foundation. A large tank in the cellar stored extra sperm whale, fish, or lard oil for the lighthouse lanterns.

During the civil war (1861-1865) the lighthouse operations were extinguished by Confederate troops. In June, 1865 both house and tower were reported to be in filthy condition and a general scraping, whitewashing and painting required. Repairs were completed in "perfect order" by September. New sashes and in most cases frames were fixed to the tower and house, also new doors, locks, and furniture. Th floors and stairs were repaired, porches restored, all weather boarding renailed and the whole painted 3 coats. The roofs throughly repaired, the lot cleared up, path ways formed and entirely refenced.


New Point Comfort Keeper's House 1840-1920


There were 22 official keepers of the lighthouse that lived at New Point Comfort and maintained the light. In 1919 the lighthouse lantern was switched from oil to automated acetylene gas. The keepers position was discontinued and the light was maintained on a periodic basis by a local "lamplighter." In 1920 the New Point Comfort keeper's dwelling was sold for $310.00 at sealed proposal salvage to George Hunt of Port Haywood, Virginia. He dismantled the structure and reused the old timbers for his home on the Mathews County main land.




References Cited:

The New Point Comfort Lighthouse, 1996, Gary and Steve Brownley

New Point Comfort Light Station Historical Report, December, 2001, Candace Clifford. Commissioned by the New Point Comfort Preservation Task Force.

Mathews County Historical Society -

United States Coast Guard Lighthouse Keepers Records

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