|Mathews County Historical Society, Inc.||
The New Point Comfort Lighthouse, located at the southern tip of Mathews County, Virginia, where the Chesapeake and Mobjack Bays converge, was first illuminated in 1805. It is the third oldest surviving lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay and the tenth oldest in the nation. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places and Virginia Landmarks Register in 1972 and acquired by Mathews County in 1976. Its survival, despite the ravages of wind, water, and human intervention, attests to the strength of its original construction and the dedication and determination of its numerous advocates.
In 1801 Congress called for a lighthouse at New Point Comfort. Local stonemason Elzy Burroughs was awarded the contract. President Thomas Jefferson appointed him its first keeper, a position he held for a decade. The keeper’s dwelling was completed in 1806.
This stately 63-foot whitewashed sandstone tower has had at least 20 keepers, including one African-American. In 1919, the lighthouse keeper’s position was eliminated and its oil lamps were replaced with an acetylene gas fixture. The keeper’s house also was razed. The U.S. Coast Guard deactivated the lighthouse in 1963. In 1999 its lamp was re-lit, using solar power, through the efforts of the local Lighthouse Lantern Committee.
New Point Comfort lighthouse has withstood the relentless forces of nature for more than two centuries. Over time, erosion claimed much of the narrow peninsula on which the lighthouse stood. Finally, in 1933, two mighty hurricanes cut through the peninsula, leaving the lighthouse on an island.
In 2001, the Mathews County Historical Society formed the New Point Comfort Lighthouse Preservation Task Force to preserve and protect the lighthouse and to make it accessible to the public. The Task Force became a county committee in 2005 to seek grants and organize planning for stabilizing the island and restoring the lighthouse. This two-decade-long project was completed in the summer of 2021.