In May of 2021, the Board of the Watch Hill Lighthouse Keepers Association received official notice from the General Services Administration (GSA) that the Watch Hill Light was being made available for transfer, at no cost, to eligible organizations. Per the terms of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act (NHLPA) of 2000, Lighthouses deemed to be “excess to the needs of” the United States Coast Guard are to be conveyed to Federal Agencies, State [or] local governments, nonprofit corporations, educational agencies [or] community development organizations that agree to make the station available for education, park, recreation, cultural or historic preservation purposes for the general public.
Both the Watch Hill Lighthouse and its “twin” station, Beavertail Light in Jamestown, began the transfer process during the summer months. On July 23rd, representatives from the National Park Service and the GSA spent a day down at the Watch Hill Light providing tours of the buildings to prospective owners. A three-month application period then ensued, closing with the submission of the completed application in the third week of October.
As steward of the Watch Hill Lighthouse since August 31st, 1986, the WHLKA resolutely affirmed our intention to continue our Mission to preserve this beloved historic property in perpetuity. Our application highlights our immediate objective to maintain access to the Lighthouse grounds for public enjoyment, and to enhance the collection held and information provided by the Lighthouse Museum the Association maintains on the property. Equally, we continue to plan for anticipated building repairs and revetment restoration so that this beautiful public park space in Watch Hill may be safely enjoyed by all our visitors.
Per the terms of the NHLPA, all submitted applications will be reviewed by the National Park Service; a recommendation will be made; and the GSA will then initiate transfer proceedings. As we await a formal decision – which may be a year away – the WHLKA recognizes the outstanding community support received for our continued stewardship. Notable among our supporters are the Town Council of Westerly, the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce, the Watch Hill Conservancy, the Watch Hill Fire District and the Westerly Historical Society.
Questions from members of the public may be submitted via the website.
Ann Snowden Johnson