The Aegis
Harford County

National Lighthouse Day in Havre de Grace

As a stay-at-home mother, Diane Carter of Aberdeen must find a steady diet of daytime activities for her two children.

On Wednesday, one of those activities involved visiting the Concord Point Lighthouse in Havre de Grace.


"You could go to the top!" her 7-year-old daughter Jessa said as she and her 1-year-old sister Janna left the 36-foot-high historic structure.

The lighthouse and its accompanying Keeper's Dwelling Museum are normally open just on weekends from April through October, but both were open Wednesday in honor of National Lighthouse Day.


The observance has taken place around the country every Aug. 7 since 1989, after Congress passed a resolution in 1988 designating that day as National Lighthouse Day.

The first National Lighthouse Day marked the 200th anniversary of the passage of the "Act for the Establishment and support of Lighthouse, Beacons, Buoys, and Public Piers," on Aug. 7, 1789, said Bethany Baker, executive director of the lighthouse and the museum.

"People can come, and climb the tower and experience it," Baker said of the lighthouse.

She said "hundreds" of people visit during a weekend of good weather, and she estimated 30 to 50 people had visited as of 11:30 a.m., 90 minutes after the lighthouse and museum opened.

Sophia and Gabe Ries, ages 5 and 3, respectively, of Havre de Grace, and their nanny, Tammy Glotfelty of Taneytown, were among those first visitors.

"Good, good!" Sophia said when asked what she thought of her trip inside the lighthouse, which has stood since 1827 as a beacon for those navigating where the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay meet.

Glotfelty said Wednesday was her first time inside the structure.

"We get to see it every day, and to actually be in it was pretty cool," she said.


Visitors were greeted by Pat Stetina of the Friends of Concord Point Lighthouse Inc., the nonprofit organization which operates and maintains the lighthouse and keeper's museum.

They could make their way through the entrance in the "Port Deposit granite" base of the lighthouse, up the spiral stone staircase and then a narrow metal ladder into the top of the lighthouse.

The 36-inch-high Fresnel lens takes up much of the space at the top, but visitors could still get a 360-degree view of the mouth of the Susquehanna River, the Chesapeake Bay and the lower portion of Havre de Grace.

The first keeper of the lighthouse, John O'Neill, had a very different experience 14 years before the lighthouse opened.

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He is credited with manning a three-cannon battery in an unsuccessful attempt to hold off invading British troops who captured and sacked Havre de Grace in 1813.

A series of keepers watched over the lighthouse until it became automated in 1920, according to a pamphlet provided by Stetina.


The Coast Guard decommissioned the lighthouse in 1975 and gave it to the City of Havre de Grace, according to the pamphlet.

The Friends of Concord Point Lighthouse nonprofit was formed in 1979 to care for the then-deteriorating lighthouse, according to the Concord Point Lighthouse website.

Baker said restoration projects for the lighthouse, Keeper's Dwelling and the grounds of both are ongoing.

A fundraiser was also held Wednesday with Pat's Pizza of Havre de Grace; visitors to the lighthouse received a flyer to bring to the restaurant, and 20 percent of sales with the flyer, between 5 and 9 p.m. Wednesday, would be donated to restoration projects, according to the flyer.

"It's part of Havre de Grace's history, and we just want to make sure that it is maintained and open for [visitors] to come and enjoy it," Baker said of the lighthouse and museum.