The first lightship was destroyed by the Confederates in 1861 during the Civil War. The second lightship was a converted barge that served until 1868, when it was replaced by the screw-pile lighthouse. It was removed in 1895. The third and final lightship took its place until the current lighthouse was constructed in 1897. The same plans were used to build the Wolf Trap Light, so the only difference between the two is color. Since then, the lighthouse was manned continuously until 1971, when a submarine cable was installed to enable automate its operations. The Coast Guard considered retiring the lighthouse after the cable was damaged in 1980, but were persuaded to repair it in 1988.
The Smith Point Lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. As part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, the Smith Point Lighthouse was auctioned off in 2005 for $170,000. The lighthouse remains in service today.