Execution Rocks lighthouse

Execution Rocks Light
Location West end of Long Island sound
Year first lit 1850
Automated 1979
Deactivated Active
Foundation Dressed stone/timber
Construction Granite with brick lining
Tower shape Conical
Height 60 feet (18 m)
Focal height 62 feet (19 m)
Original lens Fourth Order Fresnel, 1856
Current lens APRB-251
Range 15nm
Characteristic Flashing white 10s
Fog signal none
Racon "X" (– •• –)
Admiralty number J0916
ARLHS number USA-277
USCG number 1-21440

[1] [2] [3]

Execution Rocks Light Station
Execution Rocks Light
Nearest city New Rochelle, New York

40°52′41.3″N 73°44′16.3″W / 40.878139°N 73.737861°W / 40.878139; -73.737861Coordinates: 40°52′41.3″N 73°44′16.3″W / 40.878139°N 73.737861°W / 40.878139; -73.737861

Built 1850
Architect Alexander Parris
Governing body U.S. Coast Guard
MPS Light Stations of the United States MPS
NRHP Reference # 07000094[4]
Added to NRHP February 23, 2007

Execution Rocks Light is a lighthouse in the middle of Long Island Sound on the border between New Rochelle and Sands Point, New York. It stands 55 feet tall, with a white light flashing every 10 seconds. The granite tower is painted white with a brown band around the middle. It has an attached stone keeper's house which has not been inhabited since the light was automated in 1979.


It is rumored that the lighthouse's site got its name before the American Revolutionary War when British colonial authorities executed people by chaining them to the rocks at low tide, allowing the rising water to drown them. This folklore has never been verified by any historical record. The name for this island was actually chosen to reflect the historically dangerous shipping area created by the rocks' exposure during low tides.[5] On March 3, 1847, the United States Congress appropriated $25,000 for creation of Execution Rocks Lighthouse. Designed by Alexander Parris, construction was completed in 1849, although it was not lit until 1850. Over the years, it has survived both a fire and a shipwreck.

Although technically part of the city of New Rochelle,[6] the island is under the authority of the United States Coast Guard and is off limits to the public. It can be seen, however, during the Long Island Lighthouse Society's Spring Cold Coast Cruise.

A Daboll trumpet was added to Execution Rocks Light on Jan 25, 1869.[7]

On May 29, 2007, the Department of the Interior identified Execution Rocks Light Station as surplus under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000. The property was described as

"Designed and built (1848-49) by Alexander Parris. Six story 72 ft. tower has frustum shape. Cut granite masonry keeper’s dwelling (1867-68) in Gothic Revival style with 2.5 floors, approx. 1000 SF. Early example of “wave swept tower” engineering. On protective rip-rap artificial island (approx. 0.3 acre) with small boat basin.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by American Society of Engineers. Property must be maintained according to the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. Historic covenants will be incorporated into the Quitclaim Deed; however, no submerged land will be conveyed under the Quitclaim Deed."
The U.S. Coast Guard shall retain an easement for an Arc of Visibility and an unrestricted right of access in, to and across the Property to maintain, operate, service, repair and install equipment as necessary to support its aid to navigation mission. Additionally, the U.S. Coast Guard shall retain the unrestricted right to relocate or add any aids to navigation, or communications towers and equipment (along with necessary right of ingress/egress), or make any changes on any portion of the property as may be necessary for navigation/public safety purposes."[8]

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007 as Execution Rocks Light Station. On January 27, 2009, the Secretary of the Interior announced that Execution Rocks Light would be transferred to the Philadelphia-based Historically Significant Structures, which would partner with the Science Museum of Long Island to restore the light.[9]

The lighthouse was featured on the Travel Channel show Ghost Adventures in 2009.


A chronological history of the lighthouse from the Coast Guard:[2]

  • 1847, March: Congress appropriated $25,000 for the light to be built.
  • 1849, May: Construction was completed.
  • 1850: The lighthouse was first lit.
  • 1856: A fourth order Fresnel lens was installed.
  • 1868: The keeper's quarters were added. The keeper no longer had to live in the cramped space inside the tower.
  • 1918. December 8: A fire with an unknown origin caused $13,500 in damages. The engine house and machinery were destroyed, the tower and oil house were damaged and the windows, woodwork, gutters and eaves were also damaged.
  • 1979, December 5: The lighthouse was automated. A VEGA lantern replaced the Fresnel lens.
  • 2010: Historically Significant Structures Inc. is giving tower climb tours of the lighthouse in the summer.


External links

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