Municipality: Maurice River
Category: Lighthouse/Maritime Structure
The East Point Lighthouse, originally known as the Maurice River Lighthouse, was built in 1849 on an outcropping of land locally known as Haystack Island. It served a significant maritime commerce that included rapidly growing oyster and shipbuilding industries along the shores of the Maurice River and Delaware Bay. The lighthouse was designed by Alexander Parris (1780-1852) and construction supervised by the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers. The builders were Nathan and Samuel Middleton, Jr., two bricklayers from Philadelphia.
Today, East Point Lighthouse includes the original two and one-half story brick structure built on a foundation of granite with a brick-floored cellar. As far back as there is evidence the exterior of the lighthouse was painted white. The first story is divided into two rooms and a center hallway, with the attached one-story kitchen addition at the east end originally also being used as an oil room. The second story is divided in the same way, with a stairway leading to an unfinished attic and on to the lantern room.
The lighthouse was discontinued by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1941. In 1956, the vacant property was deeded to the State of New Jersey, Division of Fish, Game, and Wildlife, which was interested in the land for ecological purposes. By 1971, the condition of the lighthouse had deteriorated to such an extent that a group of concerned local citizens formed the Maurice River Historical Society with the purpose of saving and restoring the lighthouse. However, in the summer of 1971, a fire destroyed the roof and lantern room. During the 1970’s, the Maurice River Historical Society raised funds to rebuild the roof and lantern room and relocated an occupied cottage to the site to curb vandalism. On July 2, 1980, the U.S. Coast Guard in a rare act relit the East Point Lighthouse and put it back on the list of active aids to navigation, where it faithfully remains today. The lighthouse was nominated to the State and national registers of Historic Places in 1995. The exterior was restored and the lantern room rebuilt to the proper dimensions in 2002.