A Beloved Island Icon
Sankaty Head Lighthouse is a beloved Nantucket icon. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the care of the ’Sconset Trust board of trustees, and the dedication of volunteers, government officials, and island businesses, the 7-acre site is here for the pleasure of everyone. The ’Sconset Trust maintains the lighthouse and occasionally opens it to the public.
Open Day Schedule
Please enjoy the grounds from dawn until dusk. To ensure your safety, the conservation of the property and the enjoyment of all, we ask that you observe a few simple rules:
- Stay within the boundaries of the fences.
Remember: if the poison ivy doesn’t get you, the drop will.
- Avoid the golf course next door, and please respect the peace and quiet of our neighbors and golfers by keeping your voices and music low.
- While your dogs are welcome, keep them leashed, and don’t forget to use dog-walk bags to pick up after them.
- Please pack in and pack out all items.
Please note: At this time, we are unable to accommodate private tours. Please plan your visit during regular hours or visit us during Open Days.
Sankaty Head Lighthouse was erected in 1849. Federal funding budgeted $12,000; the actual cost of construction came in at $10,330. Upon completion, the lighthouse stood 158 feet above sea level. The light was originally illuminated by a French Fresnel lens (now at the Nantucket Historical Association) and a single-wick whale oil lamp. The keeper and his assistant alternated four-hour watches around the clock to tend to the light. The lighthouse was home to the keeper and his family from 1850 until 1944, when the U. S. Coast Guard took over management of the lighthouse, which it continues to this day.
SANKATY HEAD INFORMATION BROCHURE
BLUFF EROSION AND MOVING THE LIGHTHOUSE
Between 1894 and 1999, storms and erosion claimed 195 feet of the bluff near the lighthouse. Since 1999, the bluff has been losing about three feet per year. The lighthouse was 72 feet from the bluff’s edge by 2006. The ’Sconset Trust took ownership of the 405-ton lighthouse in 2007, when it sat 68 feet from the edge of the bluff. The Trust undertook to move the lighthouse 405 feet to the northwest of its original site during October 2007, and it presently stands 267 feet away from the bluff’s edge.
Keeping the light
Take a look at the chronicle of events documenting this historic move, photographed by photo-journalist extraordinaire, Rob Benchley. Check the day by day progress during the 2007 move. The epic relocation of this beloved Nantucket icon has been documented in the book: Keeping the Light, written and compiled by Rob Benchley and Bob Felch.