The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, designed and constructed in 1868-70, is the tallest brick light tower in the United States, and it is an iconic symbol of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The 198-foot-tall lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998. Threatened by coastal erosion, the lighthouse and associated buildings were moved inland 2,900 feet to a new site in 1999.
Approximately 500,000 people visit the Cape Hatteras Light Station annually and approximately 1,500 people climb the lighthouse daily between April and October.
The lighthouse is located on a barrier island along the Atlantic coast and is exposed to salt air, high winds, and intense sunlight. Consequently, repairs are needed to maintain the integrity of this national treasure. The National Park Service has received funding for a major repair project that will address the findings from a 2014 Comprehensive Condition Assessment Report and a 2016 Historic Structure Report. The project will include repairs to deteriorated masonry, metal components, windows, marble flooring, and the lantern. Important architectural components, including missing pediments over the lighthouse windows and missing interior doors will also be restored. Additionally, the project will include new paint coatings on the interior and exterior of the lighthouse.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Seashore) is proud to be entrusted with the stewardship of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. It is the mission of the National Park Service to preserve cultural resources such as this lighthouse for the benefit of current and future generations.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Restoration Project Status Updated: November 30, 2022
On Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, National Park Service (NPS) South Atlantic-Gulf Regional Director Mark Foust signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Repair and Landscape Improvement Project environmental assessment (EA) at Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Seashore). The public assisted the Seashore in identifying issues, concerns and opportunities to be considered as part of an environmental assessment during a public comment period in late 2021. A second public comment period occurred during the summer of 2022.
After evaluating three alternatives, the NPS selected and approved Alternative C: Circulation Enhanced and Lens Replicated. Under the approved alternative, the following actions will be taken inside and outside the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse during the project:
Rehabilitate the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse interior and restore its exterior.
Reverse some modern, non-sympathetic treatments, materials and finishes.
Repair and repoint masonry, remove corrosion and repair metal elements.
Remove the metal weight track from the lighthouse.
Install new railing and balustrade using a non-corrosive metal on lantern balcony.
Remove existing rotating light beacon and metal platform from the lantern and replace with a replica of the original First-Order Fresnel Lens. The replica lens will be the same size and overall appearance as the original, but a modern light source, such as an LED source, will be used inside the lens.
Rehabilitate and repair the Oil House to ensure its structural stability.
Remove the existing vinyl perimeter fence around the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. A replica of the original (pre-1920) decorative metal octagonal fence with granite bases will be constructed.
Produce and install a replica stockade fence around both the Principal Keeper’s Quarters and Double Keepers’ Quarters (Museum of the Sea) to match the look and feel of the original landscape of the early historic period (1870-1890s).
Improve pedestrian circulation, wayfinding, interpretation and the visitor experience at the Cape Hatteras Light Station. A new visitor entrance and walkways will be created to the north of the existing bookstore to foster a one-way pedestrian circulation pattern.
Add educational panels in key locations throughout the landscape to convey the history of changes to the buildings and landscape that occurred during and after the period of restoration (1870-1920).
Disassemble Keepers of the Light Amphitheater and relocate blocks to perimeter of the proposed western walkway.
Construct a new shade pavilion to accommodate visitors waiting near the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
Detailed design work is underway. In consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office, Seashore staff, historical architects, and engineers, are continuing to review condition assessments, historical drawings, and restoration techniques to formulate a scope of work for the full restoration project. The Seashore expects to award a contract for restoration work in 2023.