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.
 
aerial view of CHLH
aerial view of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse prior to restoration project beginning

NPS Photo

Restoration Project Status

Updated: January 22, 2024.
Scroll to bottom of page to link to previous updates

The first phase of the $19.2 million project to restore and rehabilitate the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse will begin later this month. Once the project begins, varying closures of the grounds surrounding the lighthouse are anticipated. The park store and restrooms are expected to remain open during the project.

The project, a collaboration between the National Park Service (NPS) and Stone and Lime Historic Restoration Services, Inc. (North Brookfield, Massachusetts), will rehabilitate the interior and restore the exterior of the lighthouse, repair and replace deteriorated materials and finishes and provide landscape improvements to enhance the visitor experience. The fabrication and installation of a replica first-order Fresnel lens is also part of the project.

Key highlights of the first phase of the project include:

  • Construction fencing will be installed around the limit of construction which includes an area beyond the current lighthouse fencing, construction entrances adjacent to the parking lot, and landscape improvements. The site will have limited access for visitation and viewpoints.
  • The Keepers of the Light Amphitheater stones will be removed and stored in a secure location for the duration of the project. The stones will be placed in the lighthouse district when the construction is completed to honor the keepers and educate the public about their role in caring for the lighthouse.
  • The primary construction entrance will be located east of the current main entrance to the light station. A portion of the parking area will be closed for several months for the delivery of project materials and staging for construction.
  • Scaffolding will be delivered and erected around the exterior and interior of the lighthouse.

Visitors to the site should expect the entire area to be under construction for a minimum of eighteen months. Access to the Cape Hatteras Light Station will vary through the course of the project and temporary closures will occur. Additionally, the exterior of the lighthouse will be scaffolded for the duration of the project. A temporary beacon will be installed on the exterior of the lighthouse during the project, though there will be periods of time that the light is turned off due to construction.

In coordination with the contractor, Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Seashore) will provide opportunities for visitors onsite to view construction activities, access the Museum of the Sea and learn about the restoration project as construction schedules allow.

“After a lengthy and thoughtful planning process, we are excited to take this significant step towards preserving an iconic historic landmark,” stated David Hallac, superintendent, National Parks of Eastern North Carolina. “We thank our visitors for their patience and understanding as the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and its surrounding landscape are restored and enhanced over the next couple of years.”

 

Previous Restoration Updates

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    Last updated: January 22, 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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