Outer Banks icon getting an off-season face lift ahead of its 145th birthday

A crew from ICC Commonwealth working on the roof and lens room exterior of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla in Feburary 2020. [photo courtesy Meghan Agresto]

The iconic Currituck Beach Light Station, which celebrates the 145th anniversary of the beacon’s lighting on December 1, is in the process of receiving an off-season face lift.

Part of the roof at the top of the 162-foot tall tower is currently being repaired by the same company that moved the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in 1999.

“International Chimney, which is now known as ICC Commonwealth, will have two people working here for about a month to disassemble the lighthouse roof cornice,” said Light Station site manager Meghan Agresto.

Crews use a simple rope and pulley system to move materials up and down from the top of the lighthouse. [Meghan Agresto photo]

The cornice is the ornamental molding hanging along the bottom edge of the roof of the lens room, which houses the original first order Fresnel lens that shines a beam of light for three seconds that can be spotted up to 18 miles away.

“They are also working a bit on the lantern glass, making sure no disparate metal is touching in the frame around the lantern glass,” Agresto said. “And they will be sealing and painting the lower cast iron belt courses.”

The cornice pieces will then be recast and put back into place later this spring.

Work along the window sills of the Keeper’s Quarters exposed the sash system that dates to when the quarters were completed in 1876. [photo courtesy Meghan Agresto]

Back at ground level, local contractors The Martin Boys are removing rotted wood from both the Keepers’ House and the Little Keeper’s House.

“They replaced part of the front decking of the Little Keeper’s House and all of the decking of the southwest porch on the Keeper’s House, along with some girders,” Agresto said.

The Martin Boys also have used some of the wood siding left over the renovations of the buildings in the 1980s that had been stored under the the porch of the Little Keeper’s House to replace siding and construct four new window sills.

“Interestingly enough, it turns out that the weight/rope sash system that existed in the Keepers House still exists,” Agresto said.

The Currituck Beach Light Station is owned by Outer Banks Conservationists, Inc., which began restoring the site in 1980 after it had been abandoned by the Coast Guard four decades earlier.

The last brick-and-mortar lighthouse built in North Carolina, which contains one million bricks and weight 9 million pounds, will reopen to the public for the climbing season on March 14.

More information can be found at the Currituck Beach Light Station official website and Facebook page.

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