After a congressional appropriation of $4,500 in August 1854, a lighthouse was built on the southern point of little (about four acres, depending on the tide) Mark Island to guide vessels into the harbor and to warn of dangerous ledges nearby.
The lighthouse went into service on January 1, 1857. Attached to the tower was a wood-frame, one-and-one-half-story keeper’s dwelling, painted brown. For many years, the station also had a fog bell with automatic striking machinery.
The Lighthouse Board reported that the station was “in good repair” in 1869, but just seven years later it was announced that the dwelling was “decayed past repair.”
A new wood-frame, one-and-one-half-story house was constructed in 1876, just north of the original dwelling. A boathouse, 12 by 20 feet, was added built in 1878, and an oil house was added to the station in 1905.
In August 1933, the light was discontinued and replaced by a lighted buoy to the southeast. The last keeper was Lester Leighton. In 1934, George Harmon of Bar Harbor bought the property at auction for $552. Three years later, Bernice Richmond, a writer and musician, and her husband, sociologist Reginald Robinson, a sociologist, bought the island from Harmon for $2,000.
In the 1950s, the island was bought by Rene RenÈ Prud’hommeaux, an author of children’s novels, including The Sunken Forest and The Port of Missing Men. Prud’hommeaux’s wife, Patricia, wrote a children’s book about Mark Island called The Light in the Tower, published in 1957 under the name Joan Howard. The book tells the story of a lighthouse much like the Winter Winter HarborHarbor Light, but in the book the lighthouse is relighted as an aid to navigation thanks to a caring young boy.
After the Prud’hommeauxs, the island was owned for a time by the playwright Gerald Kean. William C. Holden III, a financial consultant, writer, and artist, bought the property in 1995, after it had been unused for about a decade. “Panes were out in the tower,” he said later, “there were birds living inside, and the roof leaked.”
Click on the Photo to enlarge it and you should be able to see the two eagles in the dead tree behind the keeper's house.
Directions: From U.S. Route 1, turn south onto ME. 186 at West Gouldsboro, toward Schoodic Point. Turn off ME 186 at the marked road leading to Acadia National Park, Schoodic Peninsula (between Birch Harbor and Winter Harbor). The park's perimeter road is a one-way loop and the lighthouse / island can be seen from that road. Tour boats from Bar Harbor offer closed views for better photography. The light is best for photos from land in the morning.