Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Lighthouse Repairs, 1950s

When the Ocracoke Lighthouse was built in 1823 spiral wooden stairs were attached to the inside walls. In the 1950s those stairs were removed, and a central metal stairway was installed. My daughter, Amy, told me that she thought the external mortar on the lighthouse was removed at the same time, and new stucco applied. I had never heard that, and was skeptical. Later that day she sent me this 1950s photo:

If you enlarge the photo you can clearly see where the stucco has been removed to expose the red bricks on the windows side. I learn something new every day! The solid brick walls are 5 feet thick at the bottom, and 2 feet thick at the top.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Ellen Marie Cloud's first-person account of the Great Ocracoke Lighthouse Window Heist. You can read it here:


  1. Never question Amy... ;-) In all seriousness, that must've been quite a process to redo the outside; take off the old stucco and put on the new... Also, I knew that the lighthouse was thicker at the bottom, but I didn't realize it would be that thick!

  2. Anonymous8:21 AM

    the archives some governmental archive should have a record of the Request for bids which would stipuate the work and specs for the contractor to preform. Also, There no doubt was a News story in some paper and an article may detail the work at the time. A picture is worth a thousand words but is not mortar what holds the bricks together and stucco is a common exterior surface treatment to a building of concrete blocks or bricks. A cosmetic treatment of sorts to smooth out the surface or as in the case of Mt Vernon it was or something similar was appliced to the exterior and then scored to replicate the use of stone blocks , Now The HGTV show fixer Upper featured an exterior brick treatment called Germaansmear (sp?) in which red bricks were smeared with a stucco like material to expose some bricks and to cover some bricks. The technique instantly "weathers" the bricks and gives a new brick exterior some "character" it can be stunning as is the thought the old failing stucco on the Lighthouse was removed what and has the "repair" been undertaken more recently than 60 years ago?. And how much maintainence is budgeted each year for the OI Light Does any local news/group follow the lighthouse and publish info on whats up or happening -- the Light is valuable to the landscape and the economy if not why not the new coluum or fan web site??

    1. Yes, mortar is used to hold bricks together, and stucco is applied as an exterior treatment. Repairs were made to the lighthouse in 2009/2010 (

  3. Anonymous8:50 AM

    a simple internet search regarding the the 2009 repairs has answered my questions. MY DH pointed out Lighthouses were not built as tourist attractions to climb the stairs and get a view. (heavy sigh) Those that allow such use are the sights to visit if that is what one wants to do. But if any federal building is open to the public the ADA regulations apply. Incidentally, one web sight has stated the OI lighthouse leans two feet in one direction. Leans two feet wow can this statement be supported by a second source??

  4. Anonymous10:13 AM

    the light room is offset around 26" the tower does not lean.