Hereford Inlet Lighthouse

Hereford Inlet Lighthouse, North Wildwood, New Jersey

Hereford Inlet Lighthouse, North Wildwood, New Jersey

– Click on the image to enlarge or purchase –

Hereford Inlet Lighthouse

Just north of Cape May, a barrier island called Five Mile Beach parallels the New Jersey mainland. Separating Five Mile Beach from the next barrier island to the north, is a small gap known as Hereford Inlet that leads to the calm waters found between the mainland and the islands. The Lifesaving Service selected the small village of Anglesea, situated on Five Mile Beach Island near the inlet, as a site for a lighthouse in 1849.

Congress approved $25,000 for the light on June 10, 1872, and just over a year later a one-and-a-half-acre site on a dune overlooking the inlet was purchased for $150. Lt. Col. William F. Raynolds of the Army Corps of Engineers contracted with Hurst & Marshall of Philadelphia on October 8, 1873 “to furnish the materials and labor necessary to completely construct and deliver (except the lantern, the parapet, the glass for the lantern, the lens, lamps, & furniture belonging thereto) a 4th Order Light House at Hereford Inlet,” for the sum of $14,740.93. According to the contract, Hurst & Marshall would forfeit $10 for each day of delay beyond the target completion date of July 30, 1874. The motivated contractors completed the lighthouse on April 16, 1874, well before the deadline.

A “Notice to Mariners,” dated May 11, 1874, announced the activation of the light stating, “The tower height is 49 ½ feet with the light elevation rising to 57 feet above sea level. The light is visible at a distance of at least 13 nautical miles.”

Described as Carpenter Gothic and Stick-Style Victorian, the lighthouse was designed by the Lighthouse Board’s Chief Draftsman Paul J. Pelz, who was also responsible for the St. Augustine and East Brother Lighthouses and the impressive Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. The Hereford Inlet Lighthouse is quite similar to the Point Fermin Lighthouse in California.

In 1964, the Coast Guard erected a skeletal metal tower seaward of the lighthouse to display a navigational beacon. No longer needed, the lighthouse and adjacent Coast Guard Station were turned over to the New Jersey Marine Police. The Coast Guard buildings were used by the Marine Police, but the lighthouse was boarded up and remained vacant for almost two decades.

The city of North Wildwood, which is still called Anglesea by some locals, signed a lease for the lighthouse on September 2, 1982, and immediately began restoring the building. The following summer, a portion of the lighthouse opened as the North Wildwood Tourist Information Center. The modern beacon was transferred from the metal tower to the lighthouse’s lantern room in 1986, and the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse was once again performing its intended function.

The Hereford Inlet Lighthouse Commission, composed of volunteers appointed by the mayor and town council, now operate the lighthouse as a museum and gift shop. The second fourth-order Fresnel lens used at the station is on display in the lighthouse. In 2003, the lighthouse, which had previously been white with a reddish-brown trim, was painted a buff color. Some lighthouse enthusiasts were a bit appalled at the change, but when they learn that the color is historically accurate, they are usually appeased.

Hereford Inlet Lighthouse, North Wildwood, New Jersey

Hereford Inlet Lighthouse, North Wildwood, New Jersey

– Click on the image to enlarge or purchase –

Thanks to the efforts of Steve Murray, Superintendent of Parks for North Wildwood, beautiful English cottage style gardens surround the lighthouse. The gardens, which have won awards and been featured in numerous publications, provide a tranquil setting for the historic lighthouse.

Thanks to Lighthouse Friends.com for the above information.

4 Comments

  1. Great post, I am putting this on my list, love the 2nd shot bud!
    Michael Criswell recently posted..Can Ya Dig It?My Profile

    • Many thanks, Mike. With the Cape May Light only a few miles south of here, this is a great area for capturing lighthouse images.

  2. Wonderful write-up, as always, Mark. I had never heard of this particular lighthouse until now. Great find.

    I like how you framed the top image with the tree. Good stuff!
    Jimi Jones recently posted..Sandy Point MansionMy Profile

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