Lighthouse Styles: Screwpile Cottages

A "screwpile cottage" lighthouse consists of a wooden keeper dwelling with a lantern on the roof, and the entire structure stands on pilings (usually screwpiles rather than straight piles for added stability). This style of lighthouse was usually placed in shallow water like shoals or sounds. They were especially common in Chesepeake Bay and North Carolina (Albemarle & Palmico Sounds). The structures were prefabricated and shipped to the location, allowing for speedy construction. Over 100 are thought to have been built. Very few of these structures survive as they fell victim to fire and ice, or were deliberately replaced on their pilings by automated beacon lights.

Square Screwpile Cottage
Lighthouse
State Designer First Lighted Deactivated
Status
Notes
Red Fish Bar Cut I TX Edmund L. Hardcastle? 1854 1861 destroyed (1861) burned by Confederates during Civil War
Northwest Passage I FL George G. Meade 1855 1879 removed & replaced  
Deep Water Shoal I VA   1855 1867 destroyed by fire (1867) replaced by new lighthouse (1868)
White Shoal I VA   1855      
Northwest Point Royal Shoal I NC Edmund L. Hardcastle? (1856) 1857 1882 replaced  
Roanoke Marshes II NC   late 1857 1877 removed & replaced  
Craney Island I VA   1859      
Croatan Shoal I NC   1860 1887 removed & replaced  
Neuse River NC   1862   not extant construction suspended when the Civil War started
Brant Island Shoal I NC William B. Franklin (ca. 1858) 1863 May 24, 1876 destroyed by fire (1876) used standard plan
Roanoke River I NC   1866 Mar 21, 1885 destroyed by fire full-size replica in Edenton, NC
Sharps Island II MD   1866 Feb 10, 1881 destroyed by ice (1881)  
North River NC   Dec 1, 1866 Feb 1919 sold & moved ashore
Used as the Rodanthe School (1920-1951).
Now part of Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Community Center.
Southwest Point Royal Shoal NC   Apr 30, 1867 1880-1887 not extant reestablished
Long Shoal (Long Point Shoal) NC   1867      
Harbor Island Bar NC   1867 aft. 1922 not extant  
Wade Point II NC   1867 1899 removed & replaced (1899)  
Somers Cove
MD   1867 1930s demolished (1930s)  
Upper Cedar Point MD   July 20, 1867 1963   fog signal only, 1876-1882
Lower Cedar Point MD   Aug 6, 1867 Dec 25, 1893 destroyed by fire (1893)  
Jane's Island I MD   Oct 7, 1867 Jan 20, 1879 destroyed by ice (1879) replaced by hexagonal cottage
Bowlers Rock VA   1868 1918? destroyed by ice rpelaced by skeletal beacon
Red Fish Bar Cut II TX   1868 1900 demolished (1900) replaced by new lighthouse at slightly different location
Cat Island MS   Dec 15, 1871 1938    
Dames Point FL   1872 1893 destroyed by fire (1913)  
Lambert Point VA   1872 1892   fog signal staiton (1901-?)
Tybee Knoll Shoal GA   [1874] n/a never completed Construction abandoned because dredging altered the channel. Replaced by the Tybee Knoll Cut Range (1879) nearby on land.
Oliver Reef / Hatteras Inlet NC William B. Franklin 1874 1917 replaced due to ice damage  
Horn Island I MS   June 30, 1874 1887 removed (1887) moved to new pilings in 1881
Point aux Herbes LA James H. Simpson (1872) Aug 1, 1875      
Roanoke Marshes III NC   1877 1955 accidentally destroyed while being moved reused plans & material originally intended for Tybee Knoll Shoal
full-size replica in Manteo, NC
Brant Island Shoal II NC   Dec 1, 1878   not extant  
Northwest Point Royal Shoal II NC William A. Jones 1882      
Great Shoals MD   1884 1965    
Tue Marshes VA   1885 1960 removed (1960) replaced by skeletal beacon
Roanoke River II NC   Aug 15, 1885 Jan 1886 destroyed by ice (1886)  
Old Plantation Flats VA   1886 1962 removed (1962) replaced by skeletal beacon
Volusia Bar FL Jared A. Smith (1885) 1886 1908 (light)
1943 (fog signal)
destroyed by fire (1974) fog signal also discontinued 1908-1915
Croatan Shoal II NC   July 15, 1887 1950s?    
Cobb Point Bar MD   Dec 25, 1889 1940 destroyed by fire (1939)  
Tangier Sound
(Tangier Island Shoal)
VA   June 30, 1890 1961 removed (1961) replaced by skeletal beacon
Gull Shoal (Gull Rock Shoal) NC   1891 1950s? not extant  
Wade Point III NC   Apr 17, 1899 1955 accidentally destroyed while being moved  
Bluff Shoal NC William A. Jones (1901) 1904     reused plans from NW Point Royal Shoal II
Horn Island III MS   Mar 15, 1906      

Characteristics: one-story square wooden dwelling, central lantern, gabled roof, inshore or offshore on five pilings (corners & center). Some had a single dormer overhang with a fog bell.
Notes: most of these lighthouses used a standardized plan first created by William B. Franklin in the 1850s which was updated after the Civil War by James H. Simpson and later again by William A. Jones.

 

Square Dormer Screwpile Cottage
Lighthouse
State
Designer
First Lighted
Discontinued
Status
Notes
Northwest Passage II FL   1879 1921 destroyed by fire (1971)  
Merrill's Shell Bank MS   1883 1944 removed (1944)  
Rebecca Shoal FL   1886 1960s? removed replaced by beacon light
Charlotte Harbor FL   Sep 1890 1943 removed (1943?)  
Roe Island CA   1891 1945 demolished (1945)  
Red Fish Bar Cut III TX   1900 1936 removed (1936)  

Characteristics: 1.5-story square wooden dwelling on iron screwpiles. Lantern on roof. Dormers on front and back.

 

Small Square Screwpile Cottage
Lighthouse
State
Designer
First Lighted
Discontinued
Status
Notes
Killick Shoal VA John C. Mallery? (1885) 1886 1940 removed (1940) replaced by beacon light
Lake Borgne I LA   1889 1908 replaced (1908) severly damaged by hurricane
Lake Borgne II LA   1908     nearby identical to first lighthouse, but with the lantern centered

Characteristics: 1.5-story square wooden dwelling on iron screwpiles, but about 2/3 the size of a typical Square Screwpile Cottage. Lantern on roof, offset to one corner.

 

Hexagonal Screwpile Cottage
Lighthouse
State
Designer
Dormers
First Lighted
Discontinued
Status
Notes
Pungoteague Creek MD Hartman Bache (1853)
?
Nov 1, 1854 Feb 2, 1856 destroyed by ice (1856) reaplaced in 1908 by a caisson beacon
Point of Shoals I VA Hartman Bache (1853)
Feb 6, 1855 1871 replaced  
Wade Point I NC Edmund L. Hardcastle (1855)
1855 1861 & 1863 destroyed by fire (1863) deliberately burned during Civil War
Boston Narrows MA  
2
1856 1929 destroyed by fire (1929) replaced by caisson lighthouse
Stingray Point VA  
1
Jan 1, 1859 1965 removed (1965) replaced by beacon light
Cherrystone Bar
Choptank River II

VA
MD

 
none
Jan 1, 1859
1921
1919
1964
moved to new station (1921)
removed (1964)
replaced by caisson beacon light
replaced by beacon light
Hooper Strait MD  
2
1867 1966 removed (1966) replaced by beacon light
relocated to Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
Deep Water Shoal II VA  
1868 1966 removed (1966) replaced by beacon light
Windmill Point VA  
2
1869 1965 removed (1965) replaced by beacon light
York Spit VA  
none
1870 1960 removed (1960) replaced by beacon light
Point of Shoals II VA  
1871 1930s removed rendered unneccesary by channel dredging
White Shoal II VA  
1871 1936    
Choptank River I MD  
none
1871 1918 destroyed by ice  
Love Point MD  
1
1872 1964 removed (1964)  
Thimble Shoal I VA  
1872 1880 destroyed by fire (1880) replaced by new lighthouse of same design
Thomas Point Shoal MD  
6
1875 n/a active only Chesepeake Bay cottage light still at original location
Mathias Point MD  
none
1877 1961 removed (1961) replaced by beacon light
Fort Ripley Shoal SC William A. Jones
2
1878 1932 removed?  
Nansemond River VA  
none
1878 1935 replaced by beacon light wood piles instead of screwpiles
Brazos Santiago II TX  
2
Mar 1, 1879 1940 destroyed by accidental fire (1940) replaced by new light at nearby Coast Guard station
Jane's Island II MD  
Dec 20, 1879 1935 destroyed by ice (1935) replaced by beacon light
Laurel Point NC  
2
Jan 31, 1880 1927    
Thimble Shoal II VA  
2
1880 1914 removed? replaced by caisson-style lighthouse
Bells Rock VA  
2
1881 1928 removed (1928) replaced by beacon light
Fort Point
(Galveston Harbor)
TX  
Aug 15, 1882 1909 (light)
1950 (fog signal)

removed?

 
Drum Point MD  
2
1883 1966? removed (1978) relocated to Calvert Marine Museum
Middle Bay (Mobile Bay) AL  
2
1885 1967? extant lantern removed (1905)
Holland Island Bar MD  
1889 1960 removed (1960) replaced by beacon light
Great Wicomico River VA  
1889 1967 removed (1967) replaced by beacon light
Pamlico Point II NC  
Mar 9, 1891 1939 removed (1939) replaced by beacon light
Sharkfin Shoal MD  
1892 1964 removed (1964) replaced by beacon light
Maryland Point MD  
1892 1963 removed (1963) replaced by beacon light
Pages Rock VA  
1893 1967 removed (1967) wood piles instead of screwpiles
replaced by beacon light
Ragged Point MD  
2
Mar 15, 1910 1962 removed replaced by beacon light

Characteristics: 1.5-story hexagonal wooden dwelling on screwpiles. Lantern on roof. Usually dormers on front & back.
Note: If the lighthouse had a fog signal it was usually a fog bell in a dormer.

 

 

Octagonal Screwpile Cottage
Lighthouse
State
Designer
Constructed
First Lighted
Discontinued
Status
Notes
Craney Island II VA     1884      
Greenbury Point Shoal MD     1891 1934 replaced by beacon light  

Characteristics: two-story octagonal wooden dwelling on screwpiles. Lantern on roof. Dormers on four sides.

 

Square Double Stack Pile Cottage
Lighthouse
State
Designer
Constructed
First Lighted
Discontinued
Status
Notes
Mahon River / Smyrna River DE     1875 1949 destroyed by fire (1984)  
New Canal II LA     1890      
Oakland Harbor II CA     1890 1966 extant now a restuarant
Southampton Shoal CA     July 11, 1903 1960 extant - moved ashore variant with dormers

Characteristics: two-story square wooden dwelling on pilings. Veranada around first story. Short square tower in center.

 

 

Mansard Offset Screwpile Cottage
Lighthouse
State
Designer
Constructed
First Lighted
Discontinued
Status
Notes
Long Beach Bar NY     1871 1948 destroyed by fire (1963)  
Bridgeport Harbor II CT     1871 1954 demolished  

Characteristics: two-story square dwelling with mansard roof. Short tower with lantern is offset from center.