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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Skip Willits, 1991
Sandy Point Shoal Light Station
Inventory No.: AA-166
Date Listed: 12/2/2002
Location: Chesapeake Bay , Skidmore vicinity, Anne Arundel County
Category: Structure
Period/Date of Construction: 1883, 1890, 1901-1902, 1929
Architect/Builder: Architect: W. J. Humes
Related Multiple Property Record: Light Stations of the United States
Description: Sandy Point Shoal Light Station has a wooden caisson foundation supporting a round 35-foot-diameter cement-filled cast-iron cylinder on which a 2 1/2-story octagonal brick structure rests. The brick octagonal structure is painted red and has a white roof surmounted by a black lantern. The first two stories were used as living quarters, the third level as the watch room, and the lower level within the cast iron cylinder, as a storage area for water, coal, and oil. The combination dwelling and lantern has elements of the Second Empire architectural style. The first two stories are made of brick masonry, and the third story is constructed of timber framing with a mansard roof. The masonry tower has a water table four courses tall at its base. At the second-level sill elevation, there is a decorative molded brick masonry belt course. At the top of the second level, there is a decorative wood ogee molding with nine brackets on each major side and four brackets on the truncated sides, followed by a cove molding above. The cornice brackets are all replacements. Fenestration on the first two levels consist of pairs of 1/1 sash windows on the north and south sides of the first and second floors; the main door on the west side of the first floor has a second-level 1/1 sash window centered over it, and a single window on the east side with corresponding single window on the second level. There is a single round-arched 2/2 sash gable-roofed dormer window on each of the four major sides of the mansard-roofed third level. The original window sash remain on only the north and west facades. Each window on the first and second levels has a stone sill and segmental lintel arch made with molded brick forming a window hood trim at the head of each window, although these have been removed above the north side windows. The door opening has similar molded brick decoration. The original wooden door has been replaced with a 1/4-inch steel-plate storm door reinforced on the inside with 1 1/2- by 1 1/2-inch steel angles. A wooden entrance door is stored in the sitting room and has four glass panes at the top and three horizontal solid wood panels on the bottom. All of the original 6/6 window sashes have been removed (except for the bottom sash on a single window on the east side), and the openings were replaced with 1/1 acrylic sheets fitted with white aluminum louvered vents. The first-level window opening on the east side and the second-level window opening on the west side are filled with brick. Apparently all the windows on at least the lower level were at one time filled with masonry, probably shortly after being automated in 1963 and then reopened and covered with acrylic sheets, probably in 1988. The original fourth-order lens made by "Henry Le Pante" (Henri La Pauite) was described in 1938 as a four panel lens with one central drum panel and eight fixed prisms in the panel above the central drum and five fixed prisms in the panels below the central drum. The light was automated on May 14, 1963. The foghorn sounds every 30 seconds during foggy weather. In June 1979, the classic fourth-order Fresnel lens was found smashed by vandals, and was subsequently replaced with a 300mm solar-powered acrylic lens. The station is situated in 5 to 7 feet of water approximately 1000 yards east from the beach at Sandy Point State Park and approximately 1 1/2 miles north of the William Preston Lane Memorial (Chesapeake Bay) Bridge, northern Chesapeake Bay, western shore, near Skidmore. Owned and managed by the U.S. Coast Guard in District 5, access to the station is via boat. Significance: Constructed in 1883 to replace an ineffective lighthouse located on shore, the Sandy Point Shoal Light Station is significant for its association with federal governmental efforts to provide an integrated system of navigational aids and to provide for safe maritime transportation in the Chesapeake Bay, a major transportation corridor for commercial traffic from the early 19th through 20th centuries. This caisson lighthouse embodies a distinctive design and method of construction that typified lighthouse construction on the Chesapeake Bay during the second half of the 19th century and early 20th.


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