Building Description Stratford Point Lighthouse, Stratford Connecticut

Stratford Point Lighthouse (Light List #960), established in 1881, marks the mouth of the Housatonic River, standing twenty feet above high water level on the shore of Long Island Sound to the west of the river's mouth. Established in 1881, this cast-iron lighthouse in the shape of a truncated cone presently is painted white with a horizontal brown band marking the middle third of its shaft. In addition to the lighthouse, the site includes a wood framed keeper's dwellings also constructed in 1881, and a brick power house, built in 1911 for the fog signal apparatus.

A concrete foundation laid on grade to a height of three feet serves as a footing for the lighttower. The tower measures twenty-one feet in outside diameter at the base, eighteen feet at the top, and rises thirty-five feet to the focal. plane of the light. Five courses of curved cast-iron plates form the walls of the tower; bolts connect the plates through flanges cast at the inner edges. Although the lantern has been removed, the cast-iron lantern deck remains with modern lighting apparatus occupying the traditional central position on that level. Replacing the original ornate cast-iron stanchions around the periphery of the lantern gallery are plain round metal posts, carrying two pipe rails.

The entrance of the tower faces north, sheltered by a functional, unembellished projecting door hood which frames the elliptical arch of the door opening and tapers to accommodate the slanted tower wall. The arch has been bricked-in to create a rectangular opening for a replacement door. Three segmentally-arched window openings are arranged in a helical pattern to light the winding stairway within the tower. Two-over-two lights double-hung wood sashes fill the cast-iron molded window surrounds; cast-iron consoles support peaked, cast-iron window hoods, each with a recessed panel under a molded cornice.

Inside, the cast-iron watchroom floor is supported on notches in the top of the brick lining wall and by an iron rail which spans the tower to support the center portion. Since no living quarters were required, the interior is open up to the watchroom floor. A winding cast-iron stair curves gracefully around the periphery of the space. Because there is no metal inner wall, except at the watchroom level, no central column and no intervening floors, the stairs dominate the interior. They are keyed into the brick lining wall, and have plain pipe balusters and checkered patterned treads. Storage space is provided by niches built into the brick lining wall on either side of the entrance. Additional storage space is provided in the watchroom. A six panel door connects the watchroom with the stairway to the lower level. Vertical beaded board tongue and groove sheathing covers the watchroom walls and ceilings where a wood boss with turned moldings finishes the center. The watchroom, presently air conditioned, contains apparatus for measuring air pollution. A curved metal wall supports a ship's ladder which leads to the lantern.

The present lighting apparatus, manufactured by Carlisle and Finch, Cincinnati, Ohio, consists of two sealed beacon lights with double reflectors. It 1s mounted on a stand at the center of the lantern deck.

Weather instruments and a small Fresnel-type modern lens are mounted elsewhere on this deck. The original lighting apparatus was a third order Fresnel lens with a constant level lamp by L. Sauter and Co., rotated by a Henry Lepaute clockwork mechanism. It emitted a flashing white light. In 1932, the apparatus was a fourth order lens, rotating in a mercury trough.

The keeper's dwellings located forty-five feet north of the tower, is a wood framed building with cross gabled roof. In plan it measures thirty by thirty-one feet. The house was described in an 1887 inspection report as having brick nogging between the studs. When built the dwelling contained eight rooms, including three bedrooms, one dining rooms one kitchens one sitting room, and one pantry. Carpenter Gothic details, shown fn historic photographs, included labels over windows and doors and scroll cut bargeboards. All that remains of the original detailing are the labels on the northwest corner porch and the porch posts.

The brick powerhouse, measuring twenty feet wide and thirty feet long, was built from a design used at Montauk Point, N.Y., and elsewhere. Its well-considered symmetrical elevations, transomed windows and wide doors, imposing cupola (now removed), carved roof brackets, and brick dentil trim distinguish a building intended to house important machinery. Originally unpainted, the brick is now painted white. The cupola has been replaced with a metal mesh enclosure. Most of the openings have been bricked up. The building presently is used to house an important collection of aids to navigation equipment.