Morris Island Lighthouse
Backstory and Context
The Morris Island Lighthouse is located off Folly Beach at Morris Island in Charleston Harbor, Charleston, South Carolina. It cannot be accessed, but is best viewed from the northeast corner of Morris Island and the bridge approach to Folly Beach.
lighthouse, in varying forms, has been at the Morris Island site since 1673. In
its first form it was merely a raised metal pan, filled with pitch and set
ablaze at night. The first true lighthouse, reaching a height of 42 feet, was
constructed in 1767. In 1838 a new lighthouse was constructed with a revolving
light reaching 102 feet in height. This lighthouse was destroyed in 1862 by
Confederate forces in order to prevent Union capture. More than 160 lights on
the southeastern shores of America were disabled or destroyed during the Civil
War. The lighthouse, in its current form was erected in 1876. The light
sustained major damage during the Charleston earthquake of 1886. The lens was
broken and the structure was cracked in multiple places. This damage was
repaired quickly as it did not affect the structural integrity of the
lighthouse. The 1876 form of the lighthouse was built 1,200 feet from the
shoreline but by 1938 changing ocean
currents caused by man-made construction projects had caused it to become
completely surrounded by water. This led to the lighthouse's decommissioning
and abandonment in 1962. It was replaced with a new lighthouse on Sullivan's
Island to the north of Follly Beach.
current lighthouse is a conical shape standing 161 feet tall. It has a timber
piling, concrete base and is constructed of dressed stone.
The lighthouse has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982.
The federal government sold the lighthouse to Save the Light, Inc., in 1999, for $75,000. Ownership was then transferred to the South Carolina DNR. The state then leased the lighthouse to Save the Light, Inc., for a 88-year term. The organization is currently working to restore the site.