In 1889 Congress appropriated $20,000 for the purchase
of land near Squan Inlet (now Manasquan Inlet) on which
to build a lighthouse. It was felt that some sort of
light was necessary to illuminate the long stretch of
unbroken coast between Barnegat Inlet to the south and
Sandy Hook Bay to the north. Since Squan Inlet was the
best refuge for vessels along the coast, it was deemed
an appropriate place for the erection of a lighthouse.
The papers for the purchase of a site were drawn up,
but before payment was made, it was discovered that the
lot to be transferred was not the site selected and
agreed upon by the Light-House Board and was unfit for
the intended purpose. The sale was subsequently called
Efforts to locate a new and more suitable site were
begun and by 1894 were successful, but there was
difficulty in obtaining a clear title to the tract
located 1 5/8 miles north of the Inlet. The difficulties
were resolved the following year, however and title was
Construction began on the lighthouse which up until
this point had been called the Squan Inlet
Light-Station, in 1896, and it was completed and first
illuminated the night of December 10, 1896.
The lighthouse was described at the time as a two-
story brick with tower on top, built of red brick, with
lead colored shutters and green blinds. The lantern was
painted black, it's top 44 feet above the ground. When
first constructed the lantern was equipped with a 4th
order lens having 8 sides and a vertical arrangement of
The lighthouse was frequently threatened by the nearby
Wreck Pond (Sea Girt Inlet). In 1900, a 240 foot sand
fence was installed to protect the grounds from further
encroachment. In 1904, the Annual Report of the
Light-House Board noted that "a sand fence was
rected and kept in position during the winter. The sand
that had drifted upon the lawn was removed, a quantity
of fertilizing material was applied and some resodding
and reseeding was done."
Two years later the report stated that the "Sea Girt
Inlet approached very near to the northeasterly corner
of the reservation," and that "sand bags were stored at
the station for use in making temporary revetments in
case of necessity."
An inspection report of 1907 notes that the lighthouse
was 80 feet to the nearest high water mark. By the
1920's the ocean too, had encroached upon the lighthouse
so the degree that the Government feared its ultimate
demise. Water lapped at the foundation of the dwelling.
Catastrophe was prevented with the addition of
interlocking steel pilings which were installed around
the seaward side of the lighthouse.
In 1921, the Sea Girt Lighthouse became the first shore
light-station to be equipped with a radio fog signal.
The system of radio signals is surprisingly
simple. They are flashed far out to sea from three
stations in the vicinity of the entrance to New York
Harbor, each being distinctive so that it can be
instantly identified. One of the sending stations is
aboard the Ambrose Light-ship directly before the
entrance of the harbor. A second station is located at
Sea Girt on the New Jersey coast, about thirty miles to
the south. The third station is aboard the Fire Island
Light-ship, about thirty miles east of the Ambrose
Light-ship, off the south shore of Long Island. the
signals thrown out from Sea Girt have a range of two
hundred miles, while the other two stations can be
clearly heard forty miles away. Even the speediest
liners therefore can pick up the radio signals several
hours' sail from the harbor entrance. The radio compass
signals are distinctive, so that they cannot by any
chance be confused with the sending of other shore or
ship stations. The Ambrose Channel Light-ship sends out
a series of signal dashes continuously for twenty
seconds, and then remains silent for twenty seconds. The
signal of the Fire Island Light-ship station is a series
of double dashes continued for twenty-five seconds,
followed by a silence of the same duration. The Sea Girt
station throws out a series of triple dashes, for sixty
seconds, and then remains silent for six minutes. By
listening in on these three signals it is possible to
lay the ship's course with amazing accuracy. The new
system has the great advantage of being both simple and
Vessels equipped with a radio compass detected the
transmissions with the aid of a small loop mounted above
a compass. The antenna could be moved in any direction.
By listening with a headset, an operator rotated the
antenna until the best (strongest) signal was heard,
then adjusted the frequency and took a bearing from
another station. Plotting the directions of those
signals on a chart, the point of intersection of those
bearings is the ship's position. By listening to the
characteristic signal each station was transmitting, it
is possible to identify the station. There were many
advantages to this new method of navigation, which was
the forerunner of today's LORAN.
The Sea Girt lighthouse was used until 1955, when the
increased cost of continued operation, availability of
more economical options, and the change of the shipping
lanes to a more easterly direction were all factors in
the decline of the usefulness of the lighthouse.
The lighthouse was offered for sale to the state, but
the state waived its priority right to purchase the
property. The Borough Council of Sea Girt advised the
General Services Administration that it would be
interested in acquiring the property.
For a time the lighthouse was used as a meeting place
for various civic groups, but in 1980 a group was formed
with the intention of restoring the lighthouse. The Sea
Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee leased the property
from the town for twenty-five years. The group was
incorporated in 1981, and consists of over 200 members.
The lighthouse is situated on Beacon and Ocean Avenues
in Sea Girt, New Jersey.
1 Collins, Francis A., Sentinels Along Our Coast, (New
York, New York: The Century Company, 1922), pgs.