Contact Address Information:
P.O. Box 115
Prudence Island Lighthouse is Rhode Island's oldest lighthouse; it was first built on Newport Harbor's Goat Island in 1823. In the great Hurricane of 1938, five lives were lost at the lighthouse station, including the wife and son of Keeper George Gustavus, a former keeper named Martin Thompson, and a visiting married couple. Keeper Gustavus was pulled to safety by an island resident. The keeper's house was destroyed by the hurricane. In 2000 the United States Coast Guard awarded a 20 year historic preservation lease for the lighthouse to the American Lighthouse Foundation. However, this apparently did not set well with the Prudence Island Conservancy, and without asking the American Lighthouse Foundation to relinquish their lease, the Prudence Island Conservancy instead issued vehement protests to the Coast Guard and politicians. The American Lighthouse Foundation, although disturbed by the methods used by the Conservancy, very willingly relinquished their lease on the lighthouse and in August of 2001, the Prudence Island Lighthouse lease was transferred to the Prudence Island Conservancy.
Tower Height: 30
Height of Focal Plane: 28
Characteristic and Range: Flashing green every six seconds.
Description of Tower: White, octagonal pyramidal granite tower with black (birdcage-style) cast iron lantern.
This light is operational
Date Established: 1852
Date Present Tower Built: 1823
1851 (moved from Goat Island, Newport Harbor)
Date Automated: 1961
Optics: 1855: Fifth order Fresnel lens; 1939: Fourth order Fresnel lens; now 250 mm.
Fog Signal: 1885: Fog bell and striking machinery.
Current Use: Active aid to navigation.
Open To Public? Grounds only.
Prudence Island can be reached via car/passenger ferry (crossing time is about 20 minutes) from Bristol's Church Street Wharf. From RI 114 in Bristol, take any cross street to Thames Street. The wharf is at the intesection of Thames and Church streets. Call (401) 253-9808 for ferry information. From the ferry dock on Prudence Island, the lighthouse is a walk of a little more than a mile. Head left from the ferry dock. There are no restaurants on Prudence Island, so plan accordingly.
Listed on the
National Register of Historic Places
Keepers: Peleg Sherman (1852-1853), Henry Dimond (1853-1855), Edward W. Spooner (1855-1859), William S. W. Yewel (1859-1862), Thomas J. Corey (1862-1875), Isaac Aldrich (1875-1886), John T. Clarke (1886-1887), Onley Coyle (1887-1888), John F. Follett (1888-1889), Thomas Burke (1894-1898), Nathaniel Dodge (1898-1905), Martin Thompson (1905-1933), Elmer V. Newton (1933-1937), George T. Gustavis (1937-1938), Milton H. Chase (lamplighter, 1939-1943), Sarah A. Chase (lamplighter, 1943-1951), Milton H. Chase (lamplighter, 1951-1958), Roger C. Grant (lamplighter, 1958-1961), Michael J. Bachini (lamplighter, 1961-1969), Marcy (Taber) Bachini Dunbar (lamplighter, 1969-1972)