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 (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.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Restoration Project Status Updated: September 26, 2023
The National Park Service awarded a $19.2 million contract to Stone & Lime Historic Restoration Services, Inc. (North Brookfield, Massachusetts) on Sept. 25, 2023, to repair the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Construction activities are expected to begin in the coming months.
Rehabilitate the interior and restore the exterior of the lighthouse.
Repaint the interior and exterior of the lighthouse.
Restore important architectural components, including missing pediments over the lighthouse windows and missing interior doors.
Repair and repoint masonry, remove corrosion and repair metal elements.
Remove the metal weight track from the lighthouse.
Install new railing using a non-corrosive metal on the lantern balcony.
Remove existing rotating light beacon and metal platform from the lantern and replace with a replica of the original first-order Fresnel lens. The replica lens will be the same size and overall appearance as the original, but LED lights will be used inside the lens.
Rehabilitate and repair the Oil House.
Remove the existing vinyl perimeter fence around the lighthouse and replace with a replica of the original (pre-1920) decorative metal octagonal fence with granite bases.
Fabricate and install a replica stockade fence around both the Principal Keeper’s Quarters and Double Keepers’ Quarters (Museum of the Sea) to match the look and feel of the original landscape of the early historic period (1870-1890s).
Create a new walkway from the parking lot to improve pedestrian circulation, wayfinding, interpretation and the visitor experience.
Relocate the Keepers of the Light Amphitheater stones to provide interpretation of the lighthouse keeper’s role.
“Our work ahead represents one of the most significant efforts to repair and restore this American icon – a hallmark of the Hatteras Island community,” said David Hallac, superintendent, National Parks of Eastern North Carolina. “The Seashore moved the Cape Hatteras Light Station to a location safe from the ocean over two decades ago. Today, we continue the important tradition of stewardship through this significant investment that will restore the lighthouse’s condition and bring back character defining architectural features as they were in 1870. In addition to the restoration work, improvements to the landscape will result in a more enjoyable and immersive experience.”
Visitors can expect scaffolding to surround the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse for much of the multi-year project. Lighthouse climbing opportunities will likely not be possible until the summer of 2026.
Last updated: September 26, 2023
Cape Hatteras National Seashore
1401 National Park Drive