The U.S. Coast Guard has sold the Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse to the National Park Service according to an article in the Post and Courier.
The Park plans to use its new ownership of the lighthouse to help aid in its preservation. Built in the early 1960s, the lighthouse was the last of its kind to be constructed by the United States Government.
Although there are many requests for visitors to enter and view the interior of the structure, the Park Service has no plans to open it to the public. They do however, according to Tyrone Walker of the P&C, to figure out a way to eventually allow public access without endangering their preservation efforts.
Although there is an elevator, most visitors and other persons have to use the 25 foot ladder to climb to the top.
Tyrone Walker of the Post and Courier offers interesting lighthouse facts below.
“When it was built, the passenger elevator in the Charleston Light was the first of its kind for a lighthouse.
When it opened in 1962, the Charleston Light was notable for several features:
— A unique triangular shape with a point toward the ocean, a design meant to withstand winds of up to 125 mph.
— A first-of-its-kind (for lighthouses) functioning electronic elevator with a 1,000-pound capacity.
— A red color that was so unpopular that public outcry forced a change to its current black-top, white-base paint scheme.
— A distinct light signature: A 0.2-second flash, a 4.8-second eclipse, another 0.2-second flash and a 24.8-second eclipse.
— A light that was the second brightest in the Western hemisphere, surpassed only by the light in Rouen, France. (The light’s brightness bothered island residents so much, its original 28-million candle-power light â€” which could be seen more than 70 miles out to sea â€” was replaced. The current 1.5-million candle-power light can be seen about 26 miles out to sea on clear nights).
1895: A U.S. Life-Saving Station and a Coast Guard Boat House are established on Sullivan’s Island.
1938: The Coast Guard adds a four-bay garage for power boats and a 45-foot-tall signal tower.
1960: Decades of beach erosion on Morris Island leaves its lighthouse stranded in the sea, making its continued operation and maintenance more difficult. The federal government decides to build a new one, and the Coast Guard chooses a site on Sullivan’s Island because of its presence there.
1962: The Charleston Light, also known as the Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse, is lit on June 15. It would prove to be the last major lighthouse built by the federal government. The Morris Island Lighthouse goes dark.
1972: By this year, the Coast Guard realized the new light was much brighter than necessary and reduced its candle power by almost 95 percent. Metal panels are installed on the rear to minimize light directed inland.
1975: The Coast Guard automates the light and no longer has an employee living there.
1986: Congress passes a law authorizing the National Park Service to buy land in Charleston next to Dockside Condominiums for a tour boat facility. The law also includes a land swap in which the Coast Guard gets the Park Service’s old tour boat site near Broad Street, while the Park Service receives most of the Coast Guard’s lifesaving station property â€” except for the lighthouse.
1989: The lighthouse, designed to bend up to 4.3 inches in strong winds, is damaged by Hurricane Hugo but eventually is repaired.
2008: While still lit by the Coast Guard, the lighthouse is transferred to the National Park Service, which plans to study its condition and ideas for providing limited public access.”