By Bill Dunn
In the New Jersey shore community of Sea Girt, where Commodore Robert Stockton’s oceanfront mansion had a porch as long as a ship’s deck from which he surveyed the waters, a lighthouse was built in 1896. Sea Girt Lighthouse illuminated a dark space, providing a crucial guiding light to passing ships. The station would become a lighthouse of distinction and innovation. In 1920, it was the first land-based lighthouse with a radio beacon transmitter, enabling ships to navigate through fog. During World War II, the Coast Guard extinguished the light, stood watch in the tower, and patrolled the beaches. No matter the mission, the lighthouse met every challenge. In 1956, the town acquired the decommissioned lighthouse, making it the library and recreation center. By 1981, however, the building needed extensive repairs and was at risk of being sold. Concerned residents formed the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee to “save our lighthouse.” And they did, restoring it, preserving its history, and keeping it busy with community events.
Bill Dunn visited Sea Girt Lighthouse often as a youngster when it was the recreation center. Dunn, who was a reporter at the Detroit News and later USA Today, has written several books, including Sea Girt Lighthouse: The Community Beacon. He is the lighthouse historian and a docent.
Soft cover, 128 pages.