West Chop Lighthouse, Vineyard Haven

3.0
#8 of 11 in Historic Sites in Martha's Vineyard
Lighthouse · Hidden Gem · Landmark
West Chop Light is a lighthouse station located at the entrance of Vineyard Haven Harbor in Tisbury, Massachusetts on the northern tip of West Chop, a few miles from the village of Vineyard Haven.
The first 25ft rubblestone lighthouse and dwelling were built on the bluffs of West Chop in 1817. Following constant erosion, the lighthouse was moved back in 1830, and again in 1846.
The first lightkeeper was pilot James Shaw West who tended the light for thirty years, from 1818 to 1848. His pay was $350 a year. Subsequent lightkeepers were Charles West, 1849–1868; his son Charles P. West, 1869-c1909; George F. Dolby (1909–1919); James Yates (1919-?); and Octave Ponsart (1946–1956) Sam Fuller has also been mentioned as a lightkeeper.
The present 45ft tall brick tower and dwelling were built in 1891. In 1976 West Chop Light became the last Martha's Vineyard lighthouse to be automated, but the original Fresnel lens is still in operation. The former lightkeeper's dwelling now serves as living quarters for the Menemsha Coast Guard Station.
The West Chop Light Station has been on the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places since 1987.
Captain James Shaw West, the first lightkeeper, was born December 11, 1777 in Tisbury, Massachusetts, the eldest son of Captain Jeruel West and Deborah Shaw of Frog Alley, Tisbury. He was married to Charlotte Hammond of Falmouth, Massachusetts. West was listed in the records first as a "mariner" and later as a "pilot." He and his wife first lived in the area of the "Neck" of West Chop which is now Hatch Road.
To visit West Chop Lighthouse on your trip to Vineyard Haven, use our Vineyard Haven road trip planner.
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  • There’s something unique & unusual to this lighthouse among five lighthouses in the island of Martha’s Vineyard. There’s actually people living on the premises and so cute. The only Lighthouse that...  more »
  • Good destination for a short bike ride from Vineyard Haven. I like to take photos of lighthouses on my trips and this was on the list!  more »

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