Sands Point Lighthouse
By Kathryn Keiserman
The fourth lighthouse established on Long Island was the Sands Point Lighthouse, built along the northern coast of North Hempstead in 1809. The Lighthouse is sometimes referred to the Mitchell Lighthouse after the man who fought for its construction, Senator Samuel L. Mitchell.
Thanks to Mitchell’s lobbying, Congress approved $6,000 to build a lighthouse at Sands Point to warn ships about the dangerous Execution Rocks; at the time, the Execution Rocks Lighthouse did not exist. The state of New York purchased the necessary land from Benjamin Hewlett in 1808, and donated the land to the federal government.
A Revolutionary War hero, Noah Mason, won the construction contract. As a member of the Continental Army, Mason helped build forts at Dorchester Heights, MA and on the Hudson River at Tarrytown, NY. He was discharged after being injured in the Battle of Saratoga in 1777.
After winning the construction contract, Mason completed the building of the station in 1809, and decided to stay on as the light’s first keeper. During his time as keeper, he witnessed another act of British aggression; in 1814 he watched the naval battle between American gunboats and the British frigate Acosta from the lighthouse. He remained keeper of the lighthouse until 1841.
According to the records for the Towns of North and South Hempstead, the opening of the lighthouse was a cause for celebration: “There was a grand civic festival at the place at which the members of the most respectable families in the neighborhood attended. Samuel L. Mitchill as the founder was honored with an invitation to meet his fellow citizens and was there on one of the happiest occasions that had occurred within the recollection of the numerous company that assembled.”
In 1894, the Sands Point Lighthouse was deemed no longer necessary and was deactivated. The lighthouse was reopened due to the public outcry, and was deactivated officially in 1922. The lighthouse has remained in private ownership, and was designated as a village landmark by the Village of Sands Point in 1992.
Read the amazing story of Noah Mason here!