The 1976 book To the Harbor Light by longtime Gazette editor Henry Beetle Hough drew its title from his daily early morning walks to the Edgartown Lighthouse with his collie Graham. It was a place Mr. Hough knew well, and in fact had campaigned more than once to save for public walking and enjoyment of the stunning views across the outer Edgartown harbor to Cape Pogue. Mr. Hough wrote that the lighthouse was “the kind of solitary outpost where the greatest product, peace of mind, is free to all.”
We take for granted that the scenic landmark has stood and will forever stand sentry beside the waterside entrance to this town of stately whaling captains’ homes and a deep harbor where world-class sailors drop anchor every summer.
In fact, the existing 45-foot cast-iron tower is actually a relative newcomer to the Island. It was brought to the Vineyard in pieces by barge from Ipswich after the hurricane of 1938 destroyed the wooden tower that had been the Edgartown light since 1828.
And we were surprised to learn that the federal government doesn’t share our deep affection for the venerable structure. Mr. Hough’s beloved beacon is on a list of 12 lighthouses the General Services Administration wants to unload as no longer mission critical.
If all goes well, ownership of the lighthouse will be transferred to the town of Edgartown without cost. The selectmen said this week they would be happy to take it over and let the Martha’s Vineyard Museum continue to manage the property as it does now, opening it in the summer months for public tours and special events.
That would be a fitting long-term arrangement for a solitary outpost that has become synonymous with Edgartown harbor.