“beautiful at all hours”
Warwick Neck, a peninsula between Narragansett Bay and Greenwich Bay, is one of the most picturesque corners of the Ocean State. Panoramic vistas and salty sea breezes attracted scores of wealthy families to these shores. In fact, it's said that before the Great Depression and the hurricane of 1938 changed the local landscape-literally and figuratively-Warwick had more resident millionaires than any other community in the nation.Vessels passing through the West Passage of Narragansett Bay, an increasingly busy waterway in the early 1800s, had to contend with a narrow channel between Warwick Neck and the northern extremity of Patience Island, less than a mile to the southeast. It's believed that a privately operated beacon was in use at the end of Warwick Neck in Colonial times. The first Warwick LighthouseFrom the collection of Edward Rowe Snow, courtesy of Dorothy BicknellCongress appropriated $3,000 in 1825 and 1826 for a proper lighthouse at the point. Three acres of land were bought from the Green family for $750, and construction began. The first lighthouse on Warwick Neck was small and unusual, consisting of a 30-foot tower atop a tiny stone dwelling with only two rooms, each about 11 feet square. The tower was square at its base, but the corners toward the top were cut back to form an octagonal shape. The lighting apparatus consisted of eight lamps, each with a 9-inch reflector. The light was established in early 1827. The lighting was delayed a bit because the first keeper appointed, a man named Burke, turned down the position.The first keeper to live at the station, Elisha Case, was provided insufficient living space for himself and his family, and the house was exceedingly damp. Case was replaced by Daniel Waite in 1831, but only after Case was granted the right to harvest crops he had planted at the lighthouse. After Waite's death late in 1832, his widow, Abby Waite, became the next keeper. A wood-frame extension with three rooms added in 1833 improved the living conditions, but there were still bothersome leaks at the junction between the addition and the original structure.Alfred Fish was the keeper when a hurricane swept the coast on September 8, 1869, passing just to the west of the area. Luckily, the storm's worst effects were felt at the time of low tide. Still, the light station's outhouses were demolished, and the roof of the keeper's house was badly damaged. Fences were also blown down, and much of the bluff near the lighthouse was eaten away. Needed repairs were quickly completed.
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Warwick Neck Lighthouse
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