Visitors to the Fenwick Island Light Keepers House this summer may notice some work underway. The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs continues to renovate the neighboring light keeper’s house, which is the more recently built of two keeper’s houses that served the 1850s lighthouse.

Late 19th/early 20th century image of the Fenwick Island Light House, with the light keeper’s house on the left. Image from the National Archives.

Built in the early 1880s, the property now undergoing renovations served as the main keeper’s house from its construction in the 1880s until the lighthouse became fully automated in 1940. The building was added onto over the decades, and officially became a Division property in 2014.

Over the last several years, preservation experts have worked to create a publically accessible space that will contribute to the history of both Fenwick Island and the Fenwick Island Lighthouse. Plans included the demolition of non-contributing features, installation of new shake siding, repainting of the entire structure and, in the most current phase, extensive interior work including environmental remediation, repairs from termite damage, water damage and age as well as new utilities, safety protection and accessibility of the first floor. In addition, the Division has undertaken a complete redesign of the exterior fencing and constructed accessibility ramps, pathways and doorways for visitors, all new utilities and roof repairs.

The ultimate goal of the renovations is to create a space for the “New” Friends of Fenwick Island Lighthouse to use as a visitor’s center and interpretive space while also conserving the building and its history with the lighthouse. The current leadership of the Friends groups includes a mother/daughter team who are descendants of a former local lighthouse keeper. To learn more about the group and their ongoing work at the site, as well as summer hours and additional contact information, go to fenwickislandlighthouse.org.