Historic Structures

Building Description Great Captain Island Lighthouse, Greenwich Connecticut

Great Captain Island Lighthouse is located on Great Captain Island, two miles south of the mainland in Greenwich, Connecticut. The mostly wooded island is a recreational area and nature reservation owned by the Town of Greenwich. The lighthouse is located at the southeast corner ofthe island facing the waters of Long Island Sound to the south. The immediate area around the lighthouse is open, with some dense lowlying vegetation near the steep slope to the rocky shoreline of the Sound roughly 30 feet below. The U.S. Coast Guard retains ownership of an approximately .3-acre fenced parcel at the edge of the bluff about 60 feet east ofthe lighthouse. This parcel contains two historic outbuildings, the Fog Signal House, and the Oil House. This parcel also contains a modern navigational aid, a flashing beacon mounted at the top of a steel tower. A modern concrete dock is located south of the U.S. Coast Guard parcel.

Great Captain Island Lighthouse is a combined dwelling and light tower built of stone in 1868. The walls of the two-and-one-half-story lighthouse are a random ashlar of rough-hewn gray granite blocks, with the corners finished with raised quoins. Similar stone forms a water table above the high basement story and the raised sills, jambs, and heads ofthe segmental arched windows, which are fitted with six-over-six sash. The lighthouse's gable roof, which has a deep cornice of Classical moldings, flattens out at the eaves to accommodate an internal rain gutter. There is a small brick chimney toward the center rear. The lighthouse is rectangular in plan, measuring approximately 33 ft by 36 ft, with a one-story, gable-roofed, stuccoed ell, 21 ft by 31 ft, appended to the rear at the basement story.

The lighthouse's main entrance is centered on the three-bay south elevation, recessed within a shallow portico. The portico has square chamfered stone pillars framing the entranceway, above which is a lintel which repeats the shape ofthe main roof. The inside jambs ofthe portico are finished with wood paneling.

The white-painted lighttower straddles the peak ofthe roofon the south end ofthe lighthouse. Built ofcastiron plates, it consists ofa square base, with large consoles extending down over the stonework ofthe south elevation, framing a small attic-story window; a watch room level of eight unequal sides, above which is a wide deck with an iron railing; a decagonal metal and glass lantern stage; and finally, a metal, orb-shaped ventilator finial. There are no longer any optics in the lantern. Cast-iron decorative details on the light tower include the date in large numerals, just below the base's cornice, and projecting sills and hood molds on the segmental-arched watch room windows, three of which are blind openings, with only the south-facing window glazed. The overall height of the lighthouse is 51 ft.

The interior is essentially unaltered, and, with the exception of the watch room and lantern, features interior functions, spaces, equipment, and details typical of an ordinary domestic dwelling. The basement, first, and second floors feature plaster walls and ceilings, as well as wood floors, doors, trim and moldings. The basement floor is notable for its fireplace and mantel. The two adjacent first floor bathrooms include tile floors and typical porcelain fixtures. The attic is unfinished and is notable for its exposed roof framing. The basement and first floors are connected by stacked, twisting staircases, and the watch room and lantern are connected by short, ladder-like sets of steps.

Two historic outbuildings are located approximately 60 feet east of the lighthouse. The circa 1890 Fog Signal House is a 31 by 22-ft, one-story building with a concrete slab foundation. It has brick walls with segmental arch-topped windows and door, and a dentil string course at the window lintel line. The hipped tin roof has overhanging eaves with exposed rafter ends. A brick chimney rises from the northwest roof plane. The roof is also penetrated by two tin vent stacks. A steel entrance door is located in the southwest elevation. The windows have been blocked off, with the exception of the southwest window, which incorporates two-over-two, double-hung wood sash. The interior contains a modern gasoline-powered fog siren air compressor, and features a modern hung ceiling and partitions. The fog siren is located outside the southeast elevation. The circa 1905 Oil House is a 16 by 11-ft, one-story, brick-walled building with a concrete foundation. It has an end-gable, raised-seam tin roof with overhanging eaves. A segmental-arch doorway with steel door is located in the southeast elevation. A rectangular louvered opening is located in the northwest gable. The building contains a modern electrical transformer. Two poured-concrete oil tank support saddles are located in the area immediately east of the two outbuildings.