PREPARING THE NATIONAL REGISTER NOMINATION
While basic instructions for completing nominations are
found in National Register bulletin:
Guidelines for Completing National Register of Historic Places Forms,
several sections of the form will require the specialized information
provided in the following guidelines. For the purposes of the National
Register, single aids to navigation are classified as structures, or,
if in ruins, as sites. Sometimes they are parts of districts which include
buildings, other structures, or objects.
In the narrative in Section 7, Description,
and in Section 8, Statement of Significance, of the registration form, develop
fully and concisely the information and analyses conducted in the evaluation process.
Section 7: Description
begins with the compilation of a narrative description of the aid to navigation.
This description, included in Section 7 of the registration form, should commence
with a discussion of the aid to navigation's location, ownership, and status.
The Point Bonita Lighthouse is located on the rocky
promontory of Point Bonita, the point projecting out from the northern headlands
of the Golden Gate and the entrance into San Francisco Bay. The lighthouse sits
at one end of the point; located close by on the steep rocky slopes are a fog
signal, bridge, and a tramway leading to the landing and a tunnel that connects
the light to a road that in turn leads to the headlands, the location of the keeper's
quarters and associated outbuildings and structures. Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard
and leased to the National Park Service, Point Bonita Light is undergoing restoration
but is open to the public for guided tours.
The description should
then identify the type of aid and discuss the specifics of the individual aid.
An individual station may have nearly any combination of types of aid to navigation.
The aid may be a station composed solely of a light, a light station with sound
signal, a sound signal station, or a sound signal station with a light later added.
These distinctions are important since stations established solely as sound stations
were rare and consequently may possess greater significance. Since the most common
type of aid to navigation considered for nomination to the National Register is
the lighthouse, which usually is part of or solely forms a light station, most
nominations should focus on the specific type of light. The discussion of the
evolution of a particular station's purpose and role also helps to establish significance.
The sites of aids to navigation are generally referred to as
light stations. These range in complexity from buoy moorings and pile lights to
multiple structure and building complexes that supported the operation, provided
access to, and housed and supported the keepers of lighthouses. Often several
functions are combined in a single structure. Stations may include at least some
of the following resources:
- keepers' quarters (sometimes housed in the same structure
as the light)
- oil house (sometimes housed in the same structure as the
- storage facilities
- garages, roads, and stables (associated
with ground transportation)
- cisterns (for drinking water and for the
boilers of steam-driven fog signals)
- bridges, tunnels, paths, catwalks
(associated with pedestrian access)
- piers, cranes, davits, landings,
boathouses, marine railways (associated with water transportation)
- tramways and handcars for transportation of residential
fuel (coal or cordwood), lamp oil, and supplies
- wells and privies
barns, pigsties, and hen coops
- sheds (for storage of cordwood, coal,
- vegetable gardens
The descriptive narrative should focus first
on the principal feature of the light station. Lighthouse types and construction
methods varied depending on the period, geography, weather, sea conditions, and
the availability of materials. The basic characteristic most lighthouses share
is a tower of some sort. The characteristics of the tower should be elaborated,
- the shape (e.g., square,
- construction materials
- construction method
the height of the tower
- dimensions at the base and near the lantern
the architectural style or design.
characteristics of lighthouses differentiated towers. These were often painted
patterns or distinctive architectural features. The description of the lighthouse
structure should include the foundation type and the reasons for using that foundation
in that location. This is particularly necessary when engineering is an area of
significance. Architectural features should also be described.
A lighthouse description should begin like this:
Disaster Light is a solitary round brick tower that rises 111 feet; at the base
the tower is 36 feet in diameter, gradually tapering to 23 feet where the brick
tower culminates in the iron lantern. The brick, laid in a common American bond,
is unfinished on the interior but is plastered on the exterior. The light is painted
with alternating bands of black and white which serve as the distinguishing characteristics
of the tower as a daymark. The light has a double set of wood doors at the base
with a small stone stoop; above the door, set approximately at the 30-, 60-, and
90-foot levels of the light are three small windows with double hung wood sashes.
The lighthouse tower rests on a broad brick pad laid over wooden pilings; this
foundation spreads the weight of the tower and supports the lighthouse on the
soft, shifting sands of the Cape. "
The nomination should next describe the interior of the lighthouse,
particularly if the tower is integral to the keeper's quarters, oil room, or other
spaces. Towers might range in complexity from a conical tower with an interior
spiral staircase to a multiple component structure. A description of a more complex
station might read:
"The Davis Harbor Lighthouse contains
three rooms. The central room, entered through the front door, is an open 30 x
20-foot area with a wood floor and a central spiral staircase that ascends to
the tower and lantern. A single window and the back door are set into the back
wall with doors centered in the side walls. This room served as the parlor of
the keeper's quarters. The door on the left (upon entering) leads into the west
room, a small 15 x 20-foot area with a wood floor. This was the oil room; originally
lined with wood shelves, it has two double-hung wood sash windows, one each on
the front and rear walls. When the light was electrified in 1919, the room was
converted into a storage area and later into an office. The east room, another
15 x 20-foot area with a wood floor, was divided into two smaller rooms, the kitchen
and bedroom. "
Optics and Illuminants
The nomination then should discuss the optic(s) and illuminants used to provide
a light signal. Detailed descriptions of every particular lens and lamp employed
in the light are not required, but basic information should be mentioned. For
"The light was originally lit in 1839 by an Argand
lamp with parabolic reflector. In 1857 the light received a 2nd order Fresnel
lens illuminated by a five-wick oil lamp which was replaced by an electric incandescent
bulb in 1908. In 1947 the significance of the harbor having declined, the light
was downgraded to a 4th order Fresnel lens that was removed in 1962. There is
currently no optic in the light. "
Descriptions of the optic should cite the elevation
of the focal plane above mean high water (not to be confused with the actual height
of the tower) and any changes that have occurred. The characteristics of the light,
including the use of color and flashing signals, should also be described. These
characteristics can be determined for the light by consulting a succession of
U.S. Coast Guard Light Lists. (See )
Another important feature of a light or sound station is the sound signal. Nine
basic types of sound signals have been employed in the history of aids to navigation:
bells, cannon, whistles, trumpets, diaphones, diaphragm horns, submarine bells,
gongs, and electronic tones. A variety of devices have been employed to operate
the bells, whistles, horns, and gongs, including clockwork mechanisms, steam,
compressed air, and wave motion. The description of a sound signal should note
the basic type of signal and then describe the structure and equipment. If a sound
signal is no longer present at the site, a detailed description of the equipment
is not necessary. A basic notation of type will be sufficient, particularly if
the evolution of sound signals at a given station is narrated. For example,
"The emplacement of a 24-pdr. flank howitzer at Point Anderson in 1855 introduced
the first fog signal at the light. The gun was fired every 20 minutes in thick
fog. In 1861, the gun was replaced by a wooden building housing a bell struck
every 90 seconds by a Stevens Automatic Bell Striker. The fog bell was replaced
in 1886 by the present building, a single-story brick structure, which originally
housed a steam-driven whistle that was replaced with a diaphone in 1916. The diaphone
was replaced with a compressed air-driven diaphragm horn which was deactivated
in 1978 and replaced by a small electronic tone signal which is presently in use
at the site. "
The particulars of extant machinery, including
the manufacturer, if known, should be cited (e.g., a Stevens Automatic Bell Striker,
or a 2,000-lb. cast bronze bell cast with the raised legend U.S.L.H.E. 1898).
In addition to the daymark feature
of particularly marked lighthouses, other daymarks included beacons, pointers,
channel markers, painted rocks and other distinctive landmarks that lined channels
on rivers, bays, and sounds. Over time many daymarks were lit, first by eight-day
oil lanterns, and later by a succession of illuminants. In describing daymarks,
either as lights or simple beacons, note whether they are on single piles, dolphins,
or skeleton structures. The distinctive markings or shape of the daymark should
also be described. This information may be ascertained by consulting the Light
Daymark ranges and range or leading lights were paired
structures designed to indicate a course to steer or a danger to avoid. The two
structures are vertical and separated from one another. They are lined up visually
to indicate the bearing of the channel or hazard. These may be small unlit daymarks
separated by tens of feet, or large lighthouse towers separated by over a mile.
In describing range lights, the distance from each other and the line of bearing
should be noted along with the landmark to which they are pointing (e.g., the
lights, 3/4 of a mile apart on a 320 degree bearing, pointed out the channel that
led into Danielsville Harbor).
Site Layout and Other Features
The interrelationship of the buildings, structures, fences, paths,
roadways, plantings, trees, and open space should be described and assessed. The
nomination should focus on the concept of a light station as a historic district
unless the aid is an isolated automatic aid, such as range lights which were often
isolated automated aids to navigation, or river lights, which were usually suspended
from poles or mounted on pilings.
The layout of the site should
be described. All property features, including the roads, open spaces, alterations
to the topography such as road cuts or shaped hillsides to accommodate a light
station, plantings, and fences formed the station. Major elements should be described
individually and in relationship to each other. Examples of such elements include:
large areas covered with cement to form catchment basins for rain water for drinking,
washing, and creating steam for the fog signal; cemeteries where keepers and their
families were buried, sometimes next to shipwreck victims; or structures designed
to combat erosion. Architectural descriptions of any other structures, features,
or buildings should then follow. Only extant buildings and structures need to
be described in any detail. But those no longer present should be mentioned and
their relationship to the surviving features explained: "a 12 x 15-foot single
story oil house formerly stood on the road above the light; it was demolished
In the Description
Section, the integrity of the aid needs to be thoroughly documented, discussing
original type, materials, workmanship, and any changes that have occurred through
time. Alterations need to be discussed and assessed in relation to the historic
context. If a lighthouse was changed, the reasons, such as improved optical or
lighting technology, should be noted. Such changes, as stressed earlier, do not
necessarily adversely affect the lighthouse's integrity.
8: Statement of Significance
The significance of an aid to
navigation is based on its representation of a type, its association with significant
themes in American history, and its comparison with similar aids.
The evaluation of an aid to navigation must include thorough historical research
into its construction and modifications, including changes to sites, equipment,
additions, and operation. Rather than offering just a chronological discussion
of a light station's career, the historical narrative included in the Statement
of Significance Section of the registration form should be organized into specific
context statements. The statements should specify an aid to navigation's place
in social, political, economic, architectural, or technological history. This
might include a discussion of the following subjects:
- the development of humanitarian concern for mariners
- the protection
of commerce and transportation
- the assumption of and increasing responsibility
of the federal government in operating aids to navigation
- American maritime
trade, engineering, and commerce
- the various designs of American lighthouses,
lenses, lamps, and sound signals.
contexts might involve a lighthouse's place in the development of Colonial lights
in North America; the construction, organization, and operation of lights under
the Fifth Auditor of the Treasury or the Lighthouse Board; or the changes wrought
by the introduction of the Fresnel lens. The historical discussion should enumerate
the reasons for establishing the aid, such as numerous shipwrecks or political
pressure, as well as factors influencing the selection of a site and construction
method, such as logistical or funding problems, and adverse natural conditions.
The significance statement should be concise and well-developed.
The information in the nomination will vary according to the aid to navigation's
significance to the local community, State, or the Nation. The development of
lights on Chesapeake Bay, for example, may be of less significance to a particular
lighthouse than its place in the national development of screw pile lighthouses.
In discussing significance, link the aid to international, national, regional,
and local historic contexts as appropriate. Convey the specific association of
a lighthouse to specific historic events. If Criterion B is applicable, an aid
to navigation's association with the significant individual(s) should be discussed.
Assess the aid's relation to similar properties with similar associations. Derive
statements of significance from primary sources and scholarly secondary historical
or professional engineering assessments. Thorough historical research is recommended
in preparing National Register registration forms so that the best available information
is analyzed and presented.
In the Statement of Significance,
assess and justify the period during which the property achieved historic significance.
The period of significance relates to the date that the current aid to navigation
was built or to the dates of significant associations. The period of significance
may include the date that the station site was established if significant historic
resources with integrity from that period survive. The close of the period of
significance might be the disestablishment, automation, or transfer of a site
to new owners. For example:
"Lighthouse X, important as
a good example of a screw pile light, was built in 1886 on the site of former
Lighthouse A, built in 1770. An appropriate period of significance for Lighthouse
X would be its date of construction or 1886, not 1770. The period of significance
could include the earlier period only if archeological information obtained on
the site of Lighthouse A would significantly supplement or revise current historical
or archeological knowledge or understanding. "
Section 9: Major Bibliographical References
Section 9, the bibliography should list sources consulted in the evaluation process
as well as those specifically cited. The citations may be organized alphabetically,
in categories (such as manuscripts, published works, plans, and collections of
historic photographs and other graphics) or in any standard bibliographic style.
Section 10: Geographical Data
The boundary of the aid to navigation, indicated in Section
10 of the registration form, should encompass all nominated historic features
described and evaluated in sections 7 and 8. Property boundaries, as long as they
do not include large portions of undeveloped land or too many intrusive features
(such as a modern housing development built up around a light), may conform to
the original surveyed station boundaries. Offshore lights on reefs or shoals should
have a boundary encompassed solely by the maximum dimensions of the structure.
For example, "Jones Reef Light, 30 x 40 feet on screw piles, as it rests on Jones
assist in the National Register assessment of integrity and significance, individual
photographs should illustrate the aid to navigation, its equipment, characteristic
and significant features, as well as depiction of changes. Both historic and modern
views are useful. Only black and white photographs, ranging in size from 3 1/2"
x 5" to 8" x 10" will be accepted. In addition to the required USGS map, it is
useful to include a site map preferably with scale, accurately depicting the various
resources and any alterations to the geography, such as hillside cuts, tunnels,
roads, and plantings or groups of trees. Architectural drawings of aids to navigation,
both historic plans and present-day renderings, may be included when available
but are not required. If a station has changed significantly over time, a site
plan might include earlier plans that depict former and present configurations.