Delaware Breakwater East End Lighthouse being repainted

July 19, 2020

In early summer 2020, contractors began the process of repainting the Delaware Breakwater East End Light, located on the inner breakwater in Lewes harbor.

The lighthouse is owned by the State of Delaware and administered by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. The project, which is expected to be completed before summer’s end, includes removal of old paint and rust, and repainting the entire exterior of the structure above its concrete foundation. Paint colors will replicate the existing red-brown and black.

Repainting the lighthouse will involve the presence of scaffolding, equipment, materials and workers on the breakwater as well as the usual noises that go with construction work during daytime hours.

No public access to the lighthouse or the breakwater will be permitted during the project. Under normal conditions, access to the breakwater and lighthouse is prohibited except for accompanied visits conducted by Cape Water Tours, which will not resume until the project is completed.

In 1825, Congress authorized the construction of a breakwater at the mouth of the Delaware Bay off Cape Henlopen in order to create a safe harbor for ships seeking refuge during storms. Begun in 1828 and completed in 1841, the Delaware Breakwater was a two-part structure comprising a breakwater and an icebreaker pier. In 1897, the open space between those two sections was closed. Due to an increase in the size and number of ships seeking refuge in Breakwater Harbor, Congress authorized construction of a second breakwater approximately 1.25 miles to the northeast of the Delaware Breakwater on a shoal known as The Shears. Completed in 1901, this new, outer breakwater created a much larger and deeper safe harbor called the National Harbor of Refuge.

Located on the original inner breakwater, the Delaware Breakwater East End Light was completed in 1885. The red-brown conical structure is 22 feet in diameter at the base with a 45-foot-tall tower. It was decommissioned in 1996 and was formally conveyed by the United States government to the State of Delaware in 1999. It is as contributing resource of the Delaware Breakwaters and Lewes Harbor, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and the National Harbor of Refuge and Delaware Breakwater Harbor Historic District, listed on the National Register in 1989.

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