Portland Breakwater Lighthouse has guarded the rocky shores of Maine since 1875. Its history ranges from treacherous winter storms to shipbuilding efforts in World War II. Even its designer had a unique resume to contribute to this historic beacon.
The lighthouse that once stood at this site was built in 1855 and was made of a wooden composition. The harsh winds and turbulent waters caused the breakwater to be extended in 1875, thus resulting in the creation of a new, more permanent light. The Portland Breakwater Light arose on the edge of the breakwater along with some homes for the lightkeepers to reside in.
The Portland Breakwater Light was designed by Thomas Walter, who also designed the U.S. Capitol Building’s iconic dome and its east and west wings. Its architecture was modeled after a 4th Century Greek Monument in Athens that was made in honor of Lysicrates. Corinthian columns and engravings depict the correlation between the two on the lighthouse.
For years the Portland Breakwater Light was used in the Portland area and had grown to be a popular landmark. When World War II broke out, a need to build more ships for the U.S. Navy became prevalent. In the early 1940s, two shipyards were placed near the lighthouse to create what were known as “Liberty Ships”. The shipyards created quite a bit of fill near the lighthouse deeming the structure useless for waterway navigation. The Portland Breakwater Light was decommission in 1943.
After preservationists decided to save the lighthouse in the 1980s, many hours and resources were placed into make “Bug Light”, as it has been nicknamed, an attraction for locals and visitors to the city of Portland. The nickname came from the fact that it is such a short lighthouse standing at only 25′ tall.
The Portland Breakwater Light is located within Bug Light Park and welcomes visitors for exterior photography during the day. For more information about hours and more, please visit the official website here.
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