Construction of the Portland Head Light began in 1787 under George Washington’s order. It was completed and first lit in 1791. It was first build out of rubble stone and original plans had the tower to be 58 feet tall. When the masons completed the tower and climbed to the top, they quickly discovered it was not visible beyond the headlines and so they raised it by almost 20 feet.

The current keepers’ quarters building was built as a two story duplex in 1891. The light became automated in 1989. In 1990, the town of Cape Elizabeth was given a lease to the property and in 1992, The Museum at Portland Head Light opened in the keepers’ quarters. An old garage was converted into a gift shop to support the museum. The Museum at Portland Head Light contains a number of lighthouse lenses and interpretative displays. In 1993, the town received the deed to the lighthouse but the US Coast Guard contains control of the light and the fog signal.

Quick Facts:
  • Located in Cape Elizabeth, Maine
  • Oldest lighthouse in Maine
  • 80 feet above ground, 101 feet above water
  • Automated light station
  • US Coast Guard maintains tower, beacon, and foghorn
  • Former lighthouse keepers’ house is now a museum