Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Restoration Project

Color photo of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse on a sunny day.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

NPS Photo

Designed and constructed in 1868-70, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest traditional lighthouse in the United States, and it is an iconic symbol of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998. Threatened by coastal erosion, the lighthouse and associated buildings were moved inland 2,900 feet to a new site in 1999.

Approximately 500,000 people visit the Cape Hatteras Light Station annually and approximately 1,500 people climb the lighthouse daily between April and October.

The lighthouse is located on a barrier island along the Atlantic coast and is exposed to salt air, high winds, and intense sunlight. Consequently, repairs are needed to maintain the integrity of this national treasure. The National Park Service has received funding for a major repair project that will address the findings from a 2014 Comprehensive Condition Assessment Report and a 2016 Historic Structure Report. The project will include repairs to deteriorated masonry, metal components, windows, marble flooring, and the lantern. Important architectural components, including missing pediments over the lighthouse windows and missing interior doors will also be restored. Additionally, the project will include new paint coatings on the interior and exterior of the lighthouse.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore is proud to be entrusted with the stewardship of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. It is the mission of the National Park Service to preserve cultural resources such as this lighthouse for the benefit of current and future generations.

This page will be updated at least on a monthly basis, if not sooner due to major accomplishments. Follow our Flickr album to see images of the lighthouse restoration over the coming months.


Summary of Restoration Project:

During the 18-month project, Stone & Lime Historic Restoration Services, Inc. will perform extensive restoration work inside and outside the lighthouse, and improve the landscape for a better visitor experience. Read the Summary Report for a detailed list of projects. Hightlights include:


Fresnel Lens Replica:

Under this project, the current spotlight/beacon will be replaced with a replica of a first-order Fresnel lens. The lens will include a fabricated pedestal, working clockwork, and a replica counter-weight system. The workings of the pedestal will be visible to visitors at the top of the lighthouse during lighthouse climbs.


The exterior and interior of the Lighthouse will have the existing paint removed and new paint applied.

Restoring the Ironwork:

Over the last 150 years, the salt air has greatly impacted the intricate ironwork of the lighthouse. This is most noticable in the lantern room, on the watch deck, in the window structures and on the stairs. The restoration project will repair the iron where possible, and provide for accurate recasting where ironwork has to be replaced. The historic iron fence surrounding the lighthouse will also be replicated and restored.

Restoring Missing Defining Features:

Window pediments (ornamental structures above the windows) are no longer present. If you look closely, you can see where these features used to be. These will be restored, along with a replica of the metal ornamental fence surrounding the light house.

Landscape Enhancements:

The Cape Hatteras Light Station attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year. This project will improve pedesterian flow by expanding walkways, improving viewsheds, and providing expanded historical interpretation along the paths. The defining fence along the principal and double keepers' quarters will also be restored, and the Keepers' Stones will be relocated along the path to allow for better interpretation and enjoyment.
complete scaffolding 4.11
By end of March, the scaffolding was 90% complete

NPS Photo

Restoration Project Status

Updated: April 12, 2024
Scroll to bottom of page to link to previous updates

During the month of March, significant progress was made on preparing both the lighthouse and surrounding landscape for the continuation of the restoration project. Most notably, the exterior scaffolding has reached the top of the lighthouse, over 200ft from the ground. In the coming weeks, the top of the scaffolding will be added, as well as an external supply elevator, completing the exterior scaffolding.

The grounds are safely open for visitation, but visitors should be aware of the ongoing construction. A temporary walking corridor has been installed to allow access to the Museum of the Sea while work begins on the landscape.

Preservation crews have also begun exploring the best methods for removing the paint from the lighthouse. Crews have to be careful to make sure that all the paint layers are being removed while not damaging the brick beneath. Chemical paint strippers seem to have worked the least effectively, while a vapor blasting process, similar to sand blasting, seems to have worked the best.

temporary beacon
Member of the preservation team holding the temporary lighthouse beacon that will be placed at the top of the scaffolding for the duration of the project

NPS Photo

Key Highlights from March 2024:

  • Exterior scaffolding completed to the top of the lighthouse.

  • Interior scaffolding has reached the third landing.

  • Work has begun to match bricks for needed patches and repairs

  • Testing of paint removal techniques on the base of the lighthouse

  • Working with local engineers to ensure that the striped pattern will be mimicked perfectly during repainting.

  • The temporary beacon has been acquired. The temporary LED array will be installed on the top of the scaffolding and activated once the current beacon is deactivated. The temporary beacon is US Coast Guard approved, visible for 18 miles, and will flash every 7.5 seconds.

  • The first sections of new pathway were poured.

path paving
New paths are being poured to improve circulation at the light station

NPS Photo

Anticipated Highlights for April 2024:

  • Total completion of exterior scaffolding

  • Installation of Temporary beacon

  • Completion of interior scaffolding

  • Continued progress on paving of pathways.


Previous Restoration Updates

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    Last updated: April 12, 2024

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    Contact Info

    Mailing Address:

    Cape Hatteras National Seashore
    1401 National Park Drive

    Manteo, NC 27954


    252 473-2111

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