About the Cape May Lighthouse
The Cape May Lighthouse has been an active navigational beacon since it was first lit in October of 1859. The present tower, which is the third documented lighthouse at the southern tip of New Jersey, has always been an attention-getting landmark. Because it is adjacent to the community of Cape May Point and just two miles from the city of Cape May, NJ, it has drawn visitors throughout its history. In 1882, the Cape May Ocean Wave reported that "the gentleman superintendent in charge [of the lighthouse], Mr. Samuel Stillwell, takes pleasure in showing visitors who have the nerve and strength of limb to the top, the interior of the lantern, and explaining the interesting operations of the light. A very picturesque view of the sea, bay, and country may also be obtained from the giddy heights of the edifice." In 1983, the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) began to lay the groundwork to acquire and restore the tower. Following a multi-million dollar restoration project, the tower opened to the public and since then more than 2 million visitors have climbed its 199 steps and experienced the unparalleled panoramic view from the top. The Lighthouse has weathered its share of Atlantic hurricanes and nor'easters and time and weather continue to take their toll. A total repainting is in order with a $130,000 price tag.
- The total cost of repainting the Cape May Lighthouse is $130,000.
- MAC's staff have been working to line up grants and our Lighthouse Keepers have been asking our visitors to help with the project.
- The Friends of the Cape May Lighthouse group has sponsored events to raise money and awareness for the project.
- The Cape May County Open Space Board approved MAC's request for $50,000 towards the project and another $50,000 is in place through a federal Maritime Heritage grant, leaving us $20,000 short of our goal.
The Importance of the Cape May Lighthouse
The Cape May Lighthouse has served as a beacon to mariners since 1859. The United States Coast Guard maintains the light but it was MAC's restoration of the tower that preserved a singular piece of Cape May's history for generations to come. It allows MAC to interpret lighthouse and maritime history, and technology, telling the story of the dedicated keepers and their families. It's drawn major new audiences, including families with children, to MAC's doorstep. As an important heritage tourism attraction, it makes a significant contribution to the local economy.
Other Ways You Can Help
MAC greatly appreciates a donation in any amount but if you are unable to contribute to our campaign, we ask that you help us spread the word. Like and share our message on Facebook.