Between 1881 and 1899, a granite breakwater, almost a mile long, was built to help protect the harbor. The Bodwell Granite Company used around 700,000 tons of granite for the project, which cost more than three quarters of a million dollars.
As the work progressed, a small moveable beacon was moved farther out each time the breakwater was extended. The light was relocated four times between 1888 and 1895. Finally, in 1902, a permanent lighthouse was built at the breakwater's end after a Congressional appropriation of $30,000.
The lighthouse consisted of a wood-frame keeper's house attached to a brick fog signal building surmounted by a 25-foot brick tower. The interiors of the fog signal building and lighthouse tower were lined with ceramic-faced brick.
Rockland Breakwater Light was automated in 1965 and the keepers were removed. The Coast Guard announced that they were going to destroy the structure. A public outcry led to the nearby Samoset Resort taking some responsibility for the upkeep of the building, after the City of Rockland turned down the property.
In 1989, the resort relinquished its responsibilities for the lighthouse. The Rockland City Council applied for the property in 1998 under the Maine Lights Program.
The goal, said the Rockland City Council, is "to protect and preserve our own history to increase the access to this historic structure for our own citizens and visitors to the history of our region and that of the Breakwater Light." Rockland Breakwater Light is on Rockland's emblem and letterhead.
The Maine Lighthouse Selection Committee approved the transfer of Rockland Breakwater Light to the City of Rockland in 1998. The Friends of the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation, was established, and a lease was signed with the city in 2001. The Friends have been gradually restoring the building, inside and out.
A float and ramp were installed in August 2003. The Rockland Festival Committee donated the float, allowing easier access for both people working on the restoration as well as visitors who can't walk the breakwater.
Open houses are held at the lighthouse from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., every Saturday and Sunday from the end of May to the middle of October. The walk to the lighthouse is a pleasant one on a nice day, but in rough weather waves sometimes lap over the granite blocks.
Directions: From U.S. Route 1, turn onto Waldo Avenue (“Samoset Resort” sign). continue for abour 0.5 mile, turning right onto Samoset road. The road ends at a parking area. The breakwater, to the left of a small park area, leads abot 0.8 mile to the light house. The best views for photographing the lighthouse are from the water. The ferries from Rockland to Vinalhaven and North Haven pass close by, as do many excursion boats and schooners from Rockland, Camden and Rockport.