America’s first lighthouse guided vessels entering Boston Harbor from Sept. 14, 1716, and the lighthouse on Little Brewster Island was the last to be automated, in 1998. While the current Boston Light is not the original, it has stood guard since 1783. The first beacon on the island fell victim to fighting during the American Revolution. Today the lighthouse is staffed by volunteers and can be toured. — Lane Turner and Lisa Tuite.
The Boston Globe
Aug. 15, 1932. Swimmers reached shore at the finish of the 1932 Boston Light race, an annual event begun in 1907. Won this day in the professional class by Joe Nunan from Charlestown in 5 hours 57 seconds, and in the amateur class by John Jarosh of South Boston in 5 hours, 5 minutes.
Dec. 24, 1940: The "Flying Santa Claus," Edward Rowe Snow, a high school teacher and coastal historian, flew out of Boston on Dec. 22 to bring Christmas cheer to lonely outposts on the New England coast. Continuing a tradition begun a decade ago by Captain William H. Wincapaw of Maine, the Flying Santa sent a bundle (seen here being dropped directly under the plane's fuselage) to the keepers of Boston Light. All lighthouses, lightships, and Coast Guard shore stations received a 14-pound package containing candy, cigarettes, a calendar, and almanac. At stations where children resided, toys were also dropped.
Joe Runci/Globe Staff
Jan. 10, 1968. Boston Light appeared frozen solid following four days of bitter record-setting cold, snow, and gale force winds in New England.
Ted Dully/Globe Staff
Aug. 26, 1984. Coast Guardsman Patrick Doherty adjusted the lighthouse lamp while standing in the middle of the second-order Fresnel lens imported from France in 1859. The assembly is 11 feet tall, composed of 336 individual prisms with 12 bulls-eyes. The light Doherty was cleaning is a 1,000 watt lamp, magnified to 2 million candle power by the Fresnel lens that was visible for 27 nautical miles on a clear night. The second lamp was for backup.
Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff
March 27, 1989. Wicky the cat looked out at the lighthouse from his perch in the lightkeeper's cottage. He was one of many pets who lived on the island since the lighthouse was built in 1716. Many families manned the lighthouse over the years, and a school was established on the island in 1910, taught by Mela Hatchard of Hull, who stayed on the island during the week and returned to Hull on the weekends and school vacation.
David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
Nov. 22, 1993. Coast Guardman Mark Clements washed the windows at the Boston Lighthouse. The Hull coastline is in the background. Boston Light became the last lighthouse in the United States to be automated on April 16, 1998, but a Coast Guard crew continued to perform all the traditional keeper's duties — such as washing windows — until Sept. 11, 2001, when the Coast Guard assigned to the island were called to duty after the terrorist attack on America. Since then the lighthouse has been manned by Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteer personnel.