Cape May in Cape May County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Lighthouse Keepers’ Homes & Gardens
From the time the current lighthouse was built in 1859 to the time it was electrified around 1933, four keepers, their assistants, and their families lived and worked on this landscape by the sea. The keepers and their periods of service were: Downes Foster, 1861-1879; Samuel Stillwell, 1877-1903; Caleb Woolson, 1903-1924; and Harry Palmer, 1924-1933. For most of these years, the site included not only the lighthouse and oil house, but dwelling houses, a barn and stable, a storehouse, vegetable and flower gardens, privies, and a water works.
Two identical keepersí houses were built within a year after the present lighthouse was completed in 1859. Each one-and-a-half-story house featured three rooms on the first floor, front and back porches, and a stairway to four second floor bedrooms. Small wooden "privies," or outhouses, were located to the rear of the property, about 30 feet behind the lighthouse. Out front, lawn and gardens stretched more than 50 feet south toward the sea. (photo #1)
The 1860 keepersí houses proved to be inadequate for the three keepers (head and two assistants) needed at the Cape May lighthouse station. The two assistants and their families were forced to squeeze into one house, creating, a situation deemed "thoroughly unsatisfactory, and detrimental to the
The assistant keepersí house was enlarged and remodeled again around 1920. (photo #3) An unknown arsonist reduced the house to ashes in September 1967. (photo #4)
The remaining keepersí house, beyond the fence to your right, now serves as a private home for state park employees.
Harry Palmer, the last keeper at Cape May, was also an avid gardener. In 1931, his well-kept lawn and garden received second place award from the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce. Palmer topped that in 1933 with a first place award and a blue ribbon in the same category. Palmer was said to have been very proud of his pole beans, tomatoes, and corn produced from his vegetable garden, not to mention the numerous hydrangeas on the property that flourished under his green thumb.
Location. 38° 55.984′ N, 74° 57.617′ W. Marker is in Cape May, New Jersey, in Cape May County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Light House Ave (County Route 629) and Lehigh Avenue. Touch for map
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Cape May Lighthouse (here, next to this marker); All Shapes, Sizes and Materials (a few steps from this marker); Oil House (a few steps from this marker); Fragile Flyers (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Swarms of Dragonflies (about 400 feet away); Flipper and Friends (about 600 feet away); Shorebirds Galore (about 600 feet away); What is it? (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cape May.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Cape May Lighthouse
Also see . . .
1. Cape May Lighthouse.
After the two assistants at Cape May had been sharing one of the stationís two small cottages for several years, the Lighthouse Board requested $2,000 in 1879 to enlarge the dwelling. This request was repeated the following year and then dropped until 1896, when the Board petitioned for $4,000 for a third dwelling as the current living arrangements for the assistants were “thoroughly unsatisfactory, and detrimental to the discipline and efficiency of the service.” (Submitted on March 3, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
2. Cape May Lighthouse Keepers.
The Lighthouse was staffed by keepers who worked for the U.S. Lighthouse Service. The Cape May Lighthouse generally had one head lighthouse keeper and two assistants. They carried the oil to the top of the tower every day to power the light, and kept the lens apparatus clean and in working order. Keepersí pay averaged $600 a year around the turn of the 20th century. There were two houses built right next to the Cape May Lighthouse around 1860 for the lighthouse keepers and their families. One has since burned, but the other is still standing, on the other side of the fence, near the entrance to the tower. (Submitted on March 3, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Categories. • Man-Made Features • Notable Persons • Notable Places • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on March 6, 2018. This page originally submitted on March 3, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 43 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on March 3, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.