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A Closer Look at Bay State Lighthouses

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Design New England contributing editor Bruce Irving delves into New England history every issue with his stories about New England’s architectural icons. For the May/June 2013 issue, “The Resolute Lighthouse” captured his (and, we hope, your) imagination. Of course, a short magazine piece can only scratch the surface of the rich legacy of the nearly 200 regional lighthouses that guided mariners through the centuries. For readers interested in learning more, we suggest Massachusetts Lighthouses: Past & Present by Arthur P. Richmond (Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2013, $34.99). The author is a retired educator and photographer from North Eastham, Massachusetts, who has published a dozen books on coastal Massachusetts. Illustrated with aerial views and antique photographs, this 160-page tome explores more than 60 of the prominent seaside structures in the state.

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Starting with the first lighthouse built in America, Boston Light, Massachusetts boasts some of the oldest lighthouses in the country. From Sankaty Head in Nantucket to Wing’s Neck in Buzzard’s Bay to amazing lighthouses on Plum Island in Newburyport, Massachusetts, Richmond lays out the details of each structure from their different shapes and sizes to historical facts and anecdotes. Sounds like great beach reading to us.

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In 1990, it was estimated that erosion could threaten the Sankaty Head lighthouse, causing it to be lifted and moved almost 400 feet northwest of its original location in Saisconset, Nantucket.

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The Wing’s Neck lighthouse was initially constructed in 1849 in order to accommodate heavy marine traffic in Buzzards Bay before guiding ships through the 1914 Cape Cod Canal.

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