Cape Henry Lighthouse . Virginia Beach . Virginia . Watercolor . 12" x 16"
... the 90-foot tall, sandstone, Cape Henry Light Tower, built in 1792 on top of a 56-foot-high sand dune, is the oldest standing lighthouse in the United States. It was built by John McComb, Jr., at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay... based on the design of the 1767 Cape Henlopen, Delaware light (which no longer stands). A keeper's house was built adjacent. In 1872, creeping structural damage led to the construction of a second Cape Henry Light, an octagonal, cast-iron erection, located 350 feet southeast of the first tower. Following considerable difficulties during construction, a first-order Fresnel lens was installed and the new tower, at 157-feet, was finally illuminated in 1881. Both towers were designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970. Presently the old and new lights are contained within the military boundaries of Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. Both Cape Henry lights are somewhat open to the public, although during my visit in 2018, the access & screening process is akin to boarding a flight on a commercial airline.