Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sepia Saturday #30
The Lighthouse Inn

In 1850, the federal government appropriated $4000 to build a lighthouse near the breakwater at the mouth of the Bass River on Cape Cod Massachusetts. Although an officer of the Marine Revenue reported that a light was unnecessary, the plans were carried through because the captains of the ships had been putting in 25 cents per month of their own money to buy kerosene for a lantern that was placed on Wrinkle Point in West Dennis. In 1854, construction began on the light and the keeper’s home. Oxen were used to drag the materials over the salt marshes and dunes.

The light was lit on May 1, 1855, and continued in service until 1880, when the Lighthouse Service decided the Bass River Light was no longer necessary since a new light had been built at Stage Harbor in Chatham. One year later, the government changed its mind and decided to relight the Bass River Light. The light continued to serve seafarers until 1914, when it was decommissioned after the Cape Cod Canal opened.

After being sold at auction, the Lighthouse property was purchased by Harry Noyes of the Noyes Buick Company in Boston. Noyes enlarged the Main House, built several buildings, and landscaped the grounds. After his death in 1933, the property was on the market for five years until Everett Stone - - at the urging of his wife Gladys - - purchased the Lighthouse property. Their son Robert helped by putting in $1000 inherited from his grandparents.

Everett was a developer from Auburn, Massachusetts. He planned to develop the land and sell it. But the papers on the Lighthouse were passed too late in June to begin any construction, so Gladys Stone decided to take in overnight guests to help pay the mortgage. So many of the 1938 guests asked to return, the Stones changed their mind about developing the land and thus began Lighthouse Inn.

Since there were very few restaurants nearby, in 1939, Gladys and Everett decided their son Bob would run the dining room for the Lighthouse. Bob hired three waitresses from Wheaton College, including Mary Packard. Bob and Mary were married in 1942, starting the tradition of family operation of the Inn.

After the death of Everett Stone in 1947, Bob, Mary and Gladys continued to run the Lighthouse over the next three decades. Bob and Mary have continued to run the Inn while raising five children at the Lighthouse - Betty Anne, Deborah, Barbara, Jonathan and Gregory, all of whom have worked at the Inn at one time or another in various capacities. Gregory and his wife, Patricia, who started at the Inn in the late ‘70's as the Children's Director, now manage the day-to-day operations of the Inn.

After being dark for 75 years, the light was relit as the only privately owned, privately maintained working lighthouse in the country. The light, which is a one-second flash every six seconds is now recognized by the Coast Guard as the West Dennis Light. The light was relit on August 7, 1989, in conjunction with the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Lighthouse Service, now the U.S. Coast Guard.

 Bass River Lighthouse circa 1855

 The early days of automobiles circa 1908

 The beginning of Lighthouse Inn 1938

September 15, 1944 - The new dining room was swept away by a hurricane.
The foundation was all that remained.

June, 1945 - A new dining room and kitchen were constructed on
a steel frame with walls designed to breakaway in the event of hurricane.

And here it is today, my favorite place on Cape Cod... these are my own photos, and I'm heading out next week for a fun in the sun vacation!

Black and white photographs, postcards and history are from the Lighthouse Inn website.

Color photographs ©2010 by Janice Stiles-Boults; property of Jan Boults Photography


  1. Looking at these photographs, I want to be at the ocean. Great postcards and photos.

  2. Fascinating history & great photos. I can see why you love this spot!

  3. It certainly is a fascinating piece of historical information... the photos are just terrific. It really is a beautiful place and a photographers paradise.