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The Thimble Shoal Lighthouse has had a tumultuous history since the original building was constructed in 1872. Three separate lighthouses have existed on the site, two of which were destroyed by accidents involving fires. The third, built in 1914, had a calmer existence and was automated in 1964. As part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, it was sold to a private citizen, though it remains in operation.


  • Caisson Thimble Shoal Light
  • Schematics of the caisson Thimble Shoal Light
  • Construction of the caisson lighthouse, ca. 1914
  • The caisson lighthouse standing next to the remains of the second screw-pile lighthouse.

The first Thimble Shoal Light was a screw-pile lighthouse built in 1872, though it was destroyed by a fire in 1880. It was replaced that same year by another screw-pile lighthouse that was originally intended for the Bell Rocks Light. The second lighthouse had less luck than the first, though it had a longer lifespan. It was struck by three separate ships: a steamer in 1891, a coal barge in 1898, and a schooner in 1909. The final collision knocked a stove over, starting a fire and burning the lighthouse down. The only part remaining afterwards were the foundations, which were removed in the early 2000s.

A new lighthouse was built in 1914, this time as a caisson lighthouse. Unlike the previous two, the new lighthouse remains standing today. The only repairs that have been done to it since its construction were to fix erosion damage. It was automated in 1964. 

As part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, it was auctioned off to Peter Jurewicz for $65,000. After restoration and renovations, the Thimble Shoal Lighthouse remains an active beacon. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. United States Coast Guard. http://www.uscg.mil/history/weblighthouses/Thimble_NRHP.asp. 

National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. Virginia Department of Historic Resources. http://www.dhr.Virginia.gov/registers/Cities/Hampton/114-0096_Thimble_Shoal_Light_Station_2002_Final.... 

Thimble Shoals Lighthouse. Lighthouse Friends. http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=443.