Green Hill Light: Forgotten Lewes navigation aid

Nature is reclaiming 10-acre site at the end of Pilottown Road next to Great Marsh
August 31, 2021

Story Location:
Pillottown Road
Lewes, DE 19958
United States

It won't be long before nature completely consumes what remains of the Delaware Breakwater Rear Range Light at the end of Pilottown Road in Lewes.

Few are even aware the 10-acre site almost surrounded by the Great Marsh exists.

Known as the Green Hill Light to locals, a 100-foot steel tower went into service in November 1881 to support the lighthouse on the western end of the Delaware Breakwater in Delaware Bay. In 1881, a two-story wooden dwelling was constructed for the keeper, and a brick oil house and barn were added in 1898.

In 1901, the keeper planted 600 ornamental trees and shrubs, and added about 650 square feet of brick walkways. It must have been some place to see at that time.

The fuel oil-powered tower light changed from red to white in 1884.

In February 1910, a large concrete keeper's house was built, and the original house was sold and moved off the property. It was used by an area farmer until it burned down in 1970.

What remains on the property are the concrete frame of the keeper's house and the barn, which is ramshackle and leaning precariously. Deer stands, remnants of a boat, piles of broken glass and old cans can be found on the site. It's also home to an osprey family.

The parcel is so overgrown that access from Pilottown Road is only available in colder months when vegetation dies off.

The rear range light was no longer needed and was decommissioned in 1918. The steel light tower was sold, removed in 1919 and moved by rail to Gasparilla, Fla., where it is still in use today.

In the early 2000s, the Lewes Greenways and Trails Committee discussed several options to bring the site back to life, including possible restoration of the oil house and keeper's house, and providing a trail to the site and Great Marsh at a cost of nearly $300,000. The site is still included in the greenways and trails master plan published on the City of Lewes website.


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