The first Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse lasted until 1925

May 25, 2021

This undated postcard photograph shows the first Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse at the southeast end of the Harbor of Refuge breakwater some time shortly after completion of its construction in 1908 and prior to its being dismantled in 1925. The current Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse replaced the former, more ornate structure, in 1926.

The first structure was pretty, but according to a Wikipedia article, proved ill-suited for its vulnerable and hostile location. Storms rocked the structure and occasionally crashed over the tower.

The federal government deemed the structure uninhabitable in 1925, dismantled it, and replaced it in short order, in 1926, with the current steel and concrete structure.

While the current structure, with the extensive help of volunteer labor and occasional grants, is holding up well, the rock structure on which it stands is taking a beating. Many of the huge granite boulders which protect its southeastern flank have been dislodged by the ocean’s relentless pounding. 

  • Delaware Cape Region History in Photographs, published every Tuesday in the Cape Gazette, features historical photos from Delaware's Cape Region - particularly - and from throughout Sussex County and Delaware generally.

    Readers are invited to submit photos of historic interest. They can be mailed to the Cape Gazette at PO Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958, or via email to

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