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.
 

Repainting:

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.
 
Hatteras update 1.24
view of the scaffolding starting to be installed. Picture taken February 29, 2024

NPS Photo

Restoration Project Status

Updated: March 1, 2024
Scroll to bottom of page to link to previous updates

uring the month of February, visitors were able to see the first visible signs of the restoration project as Stone and Lime Historic Restoration Services, Inc began staging equipment and preparing the lighthouse and surrounding grounds for construction.

Contractors closed off the active construction areas and marked pedestrian walkways to ensure uninterrupted access to the Museum of the Sea, Park Store, and restrooms. The grounds are safely open for visitation, but visitors should be aware of the ongoing construction.

 
rendering of the lighthouse with scaffolding fully installed
Rendering of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse with all exterior scaffolding fully installed

Key Highlights from February 2024:

  • Construction areas were delineated with fencing

  • Gravel was poured around the base of the Lighthouse to allow for a stable foundation for the scaffolding.

  • Over 70 truckloads of scaffolding were delivered to the Lighthouse grounds. The lighthouse will be scaffolded inside and out, consisting of 28 levels of scaffolding.

  • Scaffolding installation began, and three levels have been successfully installed. A crane arrived on scene towards the end of the month to facilitate installing the scaffolding at higher levels.

  • Preparation has begun to start landscaping and pathways work in March. Work will begin by the Museum of the Sea and proceed towards the parking lots.

  • Artworks Florida continues to work on fabrication of the replica first-order Fresnel lens, having completed several brackets, mountings, and a small section of prisms.

    In the month of March, contractors will continue to install exterior scaffolding and begin the installation of interior scaffolding. Paint removal will begin at the bottom sections of the lighthouse. Visitors can also expect to see increased preparation and work on the landscape, beginning near the Museum of the Sea.

 

Previous Restoration Updates

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    Last updated: March 1, 2024

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    Contact Info

    Mailing Address:

    Cape Hatteras National Seashore
    1401 National Park Drive

    Manteo, NC 27954

    Phone:

    252 473-2111

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