With summer right around the corner, you, like us, are probably thinking about getting away. For some that means exploring an exotic locale, for others, it is discovering — or rediscovering — the many beautiful spots and/or cultural offerings found right here in New England. A restful retreat on a New Hampshire lake, or a little cottage just steps from an ocean beach can provide the needed change of pace. But for those looking for something more adventurous, an overnight stay in a historic lighthouse in New England holds some allure. As Design New England contributing editor Bruce Irving wrote in his “Icon” column “The Resolute Lighthouse” in our May/June 2013 issue, these maritime beacons are “always signaling — no matter how dark the night or strong the gale.” That’s a message of hope and steadfast loyalty that inspires.
Some of the region’s lighthouses, Rose Island Light in Newport, Rhode Island, in particular, allow guests to stay overnight for a night, a week, or even a month, offering a chance to explore and imagine how life might have been for the hardy keepers of the light.
Built as a wooden structure with an octagonal light in 1871, Rose Island Light operated until 1970 when, after the construction of the nearby Clairborne Pell Newport Bridge, it was abandoned and suffered from vandalism. In 1984, Charlotte Johnson formed the Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation and over the next five years she and other advocates restored the building. Now visitors can stay up to a week in the rooms on the building’s first and second floors.
The historically accurate (to circa 1912) keepers’ quarters are on the first floor, which also has a library, living room, and kitchen, and are available to overnight guests. More modern rooms are on the second floor and are usually reserved for week-long visitors.
In the summer months, public access is via the Jamestown Ferry, which operates daily. From September to June, the Lighthouse Foundation’s boat takes overnight visitors to the lighthouse. For ultimate seclusion and off-season beauty, a night from November to March is suggested.
Curious what other lighthouses offer overnight accommodations? Jeremy D’Entremont operates stayatalighthouse.com, and provides information on places such as Gurnet Light in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Race Point Lighthouse in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Pemaquid Point Light in Bristol, Maine.
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Gail Ravgiala is editor of Design New England and a fan of both the region's historic architecture and its growing inventory of modern houses and public buildings.
Courtney Kasianowicz is associate editor of Design New England who scouts the area for new design, charming products, and local artisans both innovative and daring.
Jill Connors, Design New England's editor-at-large, is an antiques maven and design scout and will post about trends and discoveries in the field.
Bruce Irving, Design New England's contributing editor for architecture & building, is a renovation specialist who will share his insights on design and construction.
Estelle Bond Guralnick, Design New England's style & interiors editor, will post about interior design and interior designers and her favorite finds.