Edenton Historical Commission


505 S. Broad StreetEdentonNorth Carolina27932United States View Map




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(252) 482-7800


The Edenton Historical Commission is raising funds to furnish the Lighthouse as it would have been when the keeper kept watch. Your tax-deductible donation is needed to help furnish the Lighthouse and have it open by 2011, the 125th anniversary of its construction being authorized. Please send your check to preserve this one-of-a-kind, original lighthouse, payable to the Edenton Historical Commission and mail it to 505 S. Broad Street, Edenton, NC 27932. To see photos of the relocation of the Lighthouse to its current location, see this Lighthouse Digest article and for a more detailed version of the Roanoke River Lighthouse's history, read on: The 1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse is the last and grandest of fifteen screw-pile Light Stations on North Carolina sounds and rivers. On February 6, 1832, William Biddle Shepard (1799-1852) petitioned the U.S. House of Representatives for a light station to help sailors find safe entrance to the Roanoke River. In 1834, the U.S. Congress provided $10,000 to construct a light vessel at the mouth of the Roanoke River. A 125-ton, three-masted sailing ship was stationed across Albemarle Sound from Edenton Bay. Whale-oil lights covered with red, green and blue lenses, visible for 13 miles, hung 43 feet above the water. During the Civil War, the Confederacy controlled the light vessel, designated MM, until Union forces captured Plymouth in late March 1864. Trying to block the Union ironclad, Ram Albemarle, the Confederates scuttled the lightship 40 miles up the Roanoke River. In 1866, the government built a one-and-a-half story screw-pile lighthouse. Fueled by whale oil, it was first lit in January 1867. A fire damaged the structure in 1885. After ice on Albemarle Sound cut the lighthouse's pilings in February 1885, this two-and-a-half-story lighthouse was authorized in 1886 and built in 1887. The US Coast Guard deactivated the Lighthouse in 1941. In 1955, the Coast Guard sold this and two other surviving North Carolina sound lighthouses to Elijah Tate for $10 each. Tate (1902-1985), a Coinjock resident, was a former lighthouse Service employee. While Tate was moving the Roanoke Marsh Lighthouse, the barge tipped and dumped that lighthouse. In rough weather on the Currituck Sound, Tate also lost the second lighthouse, which was probably the Wade Point Lighthouse. After this bad luck, Tate sold this 1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse to Emmett Wiggins (1921-1995) for $10. Because Wiggins had a marine salvage business, he may have attempted to move the first two lighthouses for Tate. Wiggins moved Tate's third Lighthouse across Albemarle Sound to Edenton. In 1946 Patsy Ann Chappell Brown (Miss Pattie), widow of M. G. Brown, sold him land at the mouth of Filberts Creek in the Albania neighborhood west of Edenton. Wiggins sank the Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) on which he had moved the Lighthouse and filled marshland around it with riprap. He lived in this Lighthouse until his death.

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