Hendricks Head Light Station
Hendricks Head Light Station was commissioned in 1829 on a wind-swept point on
Southport Island near Boothbay Harbor, Maine.
The rocky promontory overlooks the mouth of the Sheepscot River and the
Atlantic Ocean near the Cuckolds Light and affords a view of the Sequin Island
Lighthouse. The site was perfectly
located to allow the meager power of the first whale oil-fired light to define a
safe course through the many treacherous sunken ledges that had taken the lives
of so many bold mariners as they attempted to enter the broad mouth of the
Sheepscot River from the open Atlantic.
1875, the present 40-foot-high brick lighthouse tower and a separate wooden
keeper's house were constructed to replace the original structure.
In 1890, a fog bell tower was erected and the Station was eventually
comprised of the light tower, keeper's quarters, the bell tower, a boathouse, a
whale oil storage house and a barn, which supported the spar for the Station's
Stars and Stripes.
1829 to 1933, twelve different keepers of the light and their families lived at
the Station. Each individual had a
unique story but none more touching than one that occurred shortly after the
Civil War. During a blinding
afternoon snow squall in March, a schooner "fetched up all
standing" upon a rock ledge one-half mile seaward from the Hendricks
Head Light Station. The frantic
keeper and his family were unable to launch the Station's dory due to the fury
of the crashing surf and were forced to watch helplessly as the doomed sailors
frantically climbed the rigging of their sinking ship.
Fleeting glimpses through the increasing fury of the snow squall revealed
a macabre scene: the showering
spray and howling, sub zero winds had frozen each human "hard to the
ratlines" in a clear coat of solid ice.
Moments later, a thundering upheaval swept away all traces of humanity.
darkness fell, the grief-stricken keeper, in an irrational attempt to "save
something", waded into the cruel sea to fetch a "curious bundle
tossing lightly in the tumultuous sea". Alas, he had rescued a bundle of feather mattresses.
To his utter amazement, however, the muffled cries of an infant emanated
from the ice-incrusted package. Inside
was a sea chest containing a carefully wrapped baby and a poignant note
revealing that the captain and his wife had "committed their daughter
into God's hands." The
keeper and his wife, who had recently buried their only child, rushed the infant
into the house, warmed her by the open fire, nursed her back to health, and
adopted her as their own.
to the great depression, the Coast Guard was forced to decommission the light in
1933, and in 1935, the Station and the entire peninsula were sold to a Dr.
William P. Browne of Connecticut. Gradually,
however, local coastal commerce gradually increased, prompting the need to
reactivate the light and in 1951, Dr. Browne allowed the Coast Guard to automate
and recommission the light. The
automated electric light required no supervision, and Dr. Browne continued to
use the keeper's house as a summer cottage.
Hendricks Head Light thus has the distinction of being the only Coast
Guard operated lighthouse in Maine that is privately owned in its entirety.
1976, Dr. Browne's daughter, Mary Charbonneau, and her husband, Gill, winterized
the house and occupied it year round until they sold it in February of 1991, to
Ben and Luanne Russell from Alexander City, Alabama.