Rhode Island Lighthouse History

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Sabin Point Lighthouse


Sabin Point Lighthouse
Courtesy of the National Archives




Location: Providence River near Sabin Point
Location: 1872 - 1968 lLat 41 45 44 N - Long 71 22 32 W
Location: 1968 - 1989 lLat 41 45 42 N - Long 71 22 30 W
Established: 1872
Lighthouse Constructed: 1872
Lighthouse Removed: 1968
Discontinued: 1989
Original Illuminating Apparatus: Six-Order Fresnel Lens
Second Illuminating Apparatus: Fourth Order Fresnel Lens (1935)
Current Illuminating Apparatus: None
Height: Lighthouse: Light 36 feet from the ground (1906)
Height: Dolphin: 20 feet above water (1987)
Status: No Longer Exists
Light Characteristic: Lighthouse: Fixed Red (1906)
Light Characteristic: LighthouseFixed Red (1950)

Light Characteristic: Dolphin: Isophase Red every six seconds (1987)

Light Characteristic: None (2005)
Range: Lighthouse: 6 miles (1925)
RangeLighthouse: 12 miles (1952)
RangeLighthouse: 7 miles (1968)
Range: Dolphin: 6 miles (1987)
Range: None (2005)
Fog Signal: Bell Struck By Machinery (1912)
Fog Signal: Electric Bell (1952)
Fog Signal Characteristic: Bell Struck 1 Times (1900)
Fog Signal Characteristic: Silent for 9 Seconds
Fog Signal Characteristic: Bell Struck 1 Times
Fog Signal Characteristic: Silent for 9 Seconds

Fog Signal Characteristic: Bell Struck 1 Times (1912)
Fog Signal Characteristic: Silent for 7 Seconds
Fog Signal Characteristic: Bell Struck 1 Times
Fog Signal Characteristic: Silent for 7 Seconds

Fog Signal Characteristic: Bell Struck 2 Times (1952)
Fog Signal Characteristic: Silent for 15 Seconds


In 1872, Sabin Point Lighthouse was built on the East Side of the Providence River just off Sabin Point. The government spent $42,000 to build the two-story granite lighthouse. For a time it was the most expensive single family home in Rhode Island. It was first lighted on November 4, 1872.

In 1916, Charlie Whitford, Sabin Point's third keeper, moved to the light with his wife Anne and their three daughters Eleanor, Myrtle, and Lillian. He had served in the Navy before he went into the lighthouse service. He had served at Orient Point Lighthouse for several years, before coming to Sabin Point.

On September 21, 1938, while Charlie was away from the light, the 1938 Hurricane hit Rhode Island. It forced huge waves up the Providence River. They washed through the lighthouse, destroying all the furniture on the first floor.

Anne almost drowned during the hurricane, while trying to secure equipment on the outside of the lighthouse. She was swept off and washed back onto the light three times.

On April 1, 1943, after 27 years of service at Sabin Point, Charlie retired from the Lighthouse Service. The Coast Guard took over operation of the light. Charlie could have gone into the Coast Guard and stayed at the light, but chose not to.

On July 3, 1968, East Providence firefighters set fire to Sabin Point Lighthouse. It was burned by order of the Rhode Island Division of Harbors and Rivers to widen and deepen the shipping channel in the Providence River. The Lighthouse was replaced by a light on a group of pilings called a dolphin. The new Sabin Point Light was later renamed Sabin Point Light 32A. It was discontinued in 1989 and was renamed Sabin Point Daybeacon SP.

See more of Sabin Point Lighthouse in Rhode Island Lighthouses: A Pictorial History at by R Holmes.


Sabin Point Lighthouse in 1900
Sabin Point Lighthouse
 Courtesy of N.L. Stebbins

Updated 4/28/2014