Why is Stepping Stones Lighthouse historically significant?
Stepping Stones Lighthouse is situated in Long Island Sound and is visible from Great Neck, City Island, and the Throgs Neck Bridge. The Stepping Stones are a series of rocks that form a reef at the western end of the Sound. The Second Empire building has a rich history dating back to 1876 when it was commissioned to guide maritime traffic. The same design was used for the construction of the Hudson-Athens Light Station on the Hudson River. Originally constructed with cast iron, the lighthouse underwent renovations in 1886 and the early 1950s. It was one of the last lighthouses constructed of brick and stone. The light was turned on for the first time on March 1, 1877. In 1866 and 1944, the lighthouse was updated and modernized. The lighthouse was automated in 1964, ending the need for resident keepers. The lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places (NR Nomination) on September 15, 2005.
Why is Stepping Stones Lighthouse endangered?
The lighthouse was deemed surplus by the Coast Guard in 2006, and ownership was given to the Town of Hempstead under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000. They entered a partnership with the Great Neck Historical Society in 2014. The lighthouse is suffering from deferred maintenance and neglect. Although still structurally sound, it is offshore and is showing signs of neglect. A 2022 Condition Assessment (SSLH_WSA_5YR_ROI_2022 ) completed by WSA Walter Sedovic estimates stabilization of the structure at $969,000.
How can Stepping Stones Lighthouse be preserved?
- The Great Neck Historical Society believes that North Hempstead has neither the will nor the resources needed to complete the mission of restoration. A group of Historical Society members, coupled with others from the area, are creating a separate non-profit organization that hopefully will be designated the new steward going forward. Their mission is to accomplish the physical rehabilitation of the structure and to create educational programs to promote its history as well as the environmental significance of western Long Island Sound.
- The lighthouse has already been the recipient of several grants, more grants and fundraising will be needed to preserve this building. A $165,000 grant from the National Park Service was rescinded when the town did not get the necessary permits secured for construction.
- In addition to regional and state support work with National Park Service and National lighthouse preservation groups, like the United Lighthouse Society to raise awareness and create a funding plan.
- Raise public awareness and support for addressing preservation needs of historic lighthouses throughout our region.