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
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 Comfort 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.
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.
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 - www.rootsweb.com/~vamchs/
United States Coast Guard Lighthouse Keepers