The first lighthouse was a granite keeper's dwelling with the tower on its roof. It exhibited a fixed white light 39 feet above the water. The original fixed white light was changed to a revolving light in July 1855.
So the story goes, around 1870 during the time Jaruel Marr was keeper a schooner ran aground on a rocky ledge just seaward of the lighthouse. Unable to launch their dorry due to high seas, Jaruel and his wife watched helplessly as the schooner broke to pieces.
In the off chance that a crew member may have survived, the keeper built a fire on the shore and diligently scanned the turbulent waters for signs of life. A short while after nighttfall he noticed a bundle floating toward the lighthouse. He snatched the bundle from the waves with a boat hook and discovered that it was actually two featherbeds tied together. He cut apart the ropes and discovered a box between the beds. Opening the box, the keeper discovered a tiny baby girl, crying and very much alive. The box also contained a note from the baby's mother, commending the girl's soul to God. Some think the girl's mother did what she could in order to save her daughter, and now walks the beach looking for her.
The keeper and his wife immediately took the baby to the warmth of their kitchen. After seeing that the baby was in good health, the keeper went outside and saw that the vessel had vanished beneath the waves. Wreckage was soon washing ashore. The keeper and his wife adopted the baby girl and raised her at the lighthouse, according to the story as it was usually told.
Some local historians question whether the events ever took place, and no such incident was ever reported by the local newspaper. Barbara Rumsey of the Boothbay Region Historical Society believes the story may have originated with a 1900 novel called Uncle Terry, which told a very similar story.
But according to some of the descendants of Jaruel and Wolcott Marr, the story is true. Elisa Trepanier, Jaruel Marr's great-great granddaughter, says, "I know the story of the baby girl in the mattress to be true as told to us by Jaruel's children and grandchildren. The baby girl was adopted by a doctor and his wife who were summer residents, as Jaruel and Catherine had too many children of their own to care for. I remember the baby girl was named Seaborn."
The debate over the veracity of the "Hendrick's Head Baby" story may never be settled, but it is one of New England's most enduring lighthouse stories. It also inspired a children's book, Toni Buzzeo's The Sea Chest, and a novel, Waterbaby by Cris Mazza.
The present 39-foot square brick tower replaced the first lighthouse in 1875. On September 23, 1875. A covered walkway connected the lighthouse to the keeper's house. A pyramidal skeleton-type bell tower was added in 1891 and an oil house was built in 1895. For several years before the bell tower was built, a small hand-operated bell was in place.
The light was converted to automatic operation utilizing acetylene gas in 1933, and the fog bell was discontinued. The light was soon replaced by an offshore buoy.
The light station and the entire peninsula were sold to Dr. William P. Browne of Connecticut. Until then, the house had no electricity or plumbing.
After electricity came to the house in 1951 the Coast Guard decided to reactivate the light, since boating traffic in the area had increased.
A ferocious storm on January 9, 1978, demolished the boathouse and also destroyed the walkway that had connected the lighthouse to the fog bell tower.
Dr. Browne's daughter Mary Charbonneau and her husband Gil owned the lighthouse for many years. Mr. Charbonneau has received national attention for the miniature ships-in-bottles he constructs.
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Credits: I would like to thank Jeremy D'Entremont, webmaster of, http://www.newenglandlighthouses.net/, for sharing the above history. Jeremy is a speaker, author, historian, and tour guide who is widely recognized as the foremost authority on the lighthouses of New England. To view a story on him, go to, (Jeremy D'Entremont).