Cape Hatteras Lighthouse restoration progressing; visitor climbing unlikely in 2021

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest brick beacon in the nation. [Sam Walker photo]

The massive restoration project of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse continues to make progress, but it appears unlikely there will be a climbing season for visitors to the nation’s tallest brick beacon this year.

According to an update from the National Park Service posted Thursday, the North Carolina Historic Preservation Office, Cape Hatteras National Seashore staff, historical architects, and engineers, are continuing to review condition assessments, historical drawings, and restoration techniques to formulate a scope of work for the full restoration project.

In preparation for contracting the full project, the Park Service has been performing work that will assist with finalizing restoration plans, including:

  • testing exterior paint removal methods, e.g. the dry ice paint removal testing that occurred late last year (completed)
  • monitoring interior humidity to enhance understanding of historic water intrusion and condensation (underway)
  • removing all the interior paint to help the park and potential contractors fully assess the condition of the interior masonry and metalwork prior to restoration. Interior paint removal began in March and was substantially complete in early August. Some additional work, including flushing of residual paint chips and inspection of metal components, will occur over the next several months.

Public climbing during the remainder of 2021 is unlikely, but may be available starting in the spring of 2022 until construction work begins. The Park Service said an announcement will be made if there are any climbing opportunities during the rest of 2021.

The Bodie Island Lighthouse south of Nags Head remains open to the public for climbing through Columbus Day weekend, while the Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla is open through November.

Prior to starting construction on the larger restoration project, the National Park Service will complete environmental assessments as required by the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.

Construction could start as early as late summer or fall 2022.

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Sam Walker was news director for, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 WCMS and Z 92.3 from August 2011 to March 2022.