The Burnt Island Light, built in 1821, is the second oldest surviving lighthouse in Maine. It operates a Living History Museum and was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Burnt Island Light Station on November 23, 1977.
Burnt Island is at the western entrance to Boothbay Harbor and visible from Ocean Point. The name came from the fact they burned the island vegetation so it would be clear for sheep grazing. In 1885 the keeper had pigs, chickens and cows in addition to sheep.
In March of 1821 funds were designated to build a light and the land was purchased soon after. A tower of granite rubble lined with brick was built along with a stone Keeper’s House. A system of whale oil lamps and reflectors was used. The stone Keeper’s House was replaced with a wood house in 1851 and is still there. At this time Fresnel lens were installed changing the lighting of the beacon.
Originally there was a fixed white light that was to attract ships to the harbor, not warn them of danger! In 1988 the light was blocked in a sector to the southwest to prevent it being seen by ships coming up the coast before clearing Cuckolds. A year later it was changed again. This time a fixed red with two white sectors were created to indicate safe passage on either side of Squirrel Island. This caused confusion with Ram Island Light which was built in 1883. Therefore, in 1901 the fixed light was replaced with a rotating beacon that had a lens on each face. The lens lasted until 1962 when it was replaced with an electric beacon. It was the last lighthouse in Maine to be converted from kerosene. The station was automated in 1988.
In 1988 the island and light station were transferred to State of Maine Department of Marine Resources. The buildings have been restored as closely as possible to the 1950’s condition. In 2003 a living history program was started.
A trip to this island is a “must do” during your stay at Ocean Point Inn. Call the Balmy Days at 207-633-2284 to find out the schedule of “The Novelty” and rates. It is a 2 1/2 trip with two hours on the island. Wonderful experience for all ages!
There is a very special book written by Robert McKay called “Percival the Lighthouse Mouse.” A great gift for young children, especially if they get to go to the island.
In 1891 the Lighthouse Board wrote, “The Cuckolds consist of two rocky islets rising about 15 feet above high water in the westerly edge of the channel at Booth Bay.”
The Atlantic Coast Pilot said they were a great danger to the three to four thousand vessels that entered the bay for refuge in Booth Bay and recommended a fog-signal be placed there.
The cost for a keeper’s house, fog signal house, cistern and equipment was estimated at $25,000. Congress appropriated the amount in March of 1891 and work began in January of 1892.
The station had to be built to withstand very heavy storms. The foundation was made of granite. Materials included 105 yards of granite masonry, 60,000 bricks, 430 casks of cement, 100 tons of sand, 200 tons of stones, 70,000 feet of lumber and 3,400 pounds of iron work. This huge amount of materials was carried on the lighthouse tender, Myrtle. Work was completed on November 16, 1892.
In 1895 a 1000 pound bell was installed to be used when air pressure was building. In 1902 “a modern apparatus operated by oil engines” replaced the “old hot-air fog-signal.” In 1907 a small tower and lantern room were added.
On January 27 and 28 of 1933, a nor’easter struck the Cuckolds doing a great deal of damage. The lighthouse was automated in 1974.
The lighthouse keeper’s dwelling has been successfully rebuilt. In June 2014, the beautifully restored lighthouse opened to overnight guests as the Inn at Cuckolds Lighthouse. You can see Cuckold’s Light from Ocean Point Inn.
Frank Sinatra was originally cast to play Billy Bigelow in the movie “Carousel” filmed in Boothbay Harbor in 1956. The cast knew they had to film some scenes twice, one for regular Cinemascope and the other for Cinemascope 55. Sinatra claimed he was only paid to film one movie and walked away from the set saying, “You are not getting two Sinatras for the price of one!”
Warren Barnes, the owner of the Ocean Point Inn in 1956, had the Inn maintenance man take two leather suitcases, stencil F.S. on them and place them in front of the Inn. This caused quite a stir with the Ocean Pointers who thought the star was staying at the Inn.
Helen Hayes stayed at the Inn when she was narrator of an NBC special on Rachel Carson and her book, “A Silent Spring.” They used the lily pond as the backdrop for the credits.
Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley came to dinner at the Ocean Point Inn to escape the crush of fans in town. They were a glamor couple at the time and had good fun with our staff signing autographs and even checks. It was said they were guests of Paul McCartney on his yacht.
Local celebs who spend their summers in the area include Robert Duvall and former NFL commissioner Paul Taglibus on Squirrel Island and the Wyeths on Monhegan Island. Walter Cronkite and Charles Kuralt spent many days on their sailing yachts in Boothbay waters. Jimmy Dean’s yacht, The Big Bad John, and the Chicago Blackhawks’s owner’s yacht, Blackhawk were annual visitors to Boothbay Harbor near Ocean Point Inn.
The Ocean Point Inn will celebrate 117 years this summer and there is an interesting history during all those years. The Pleasant View House was founded in 1898 by Capt. Edward Burnham. It was a twenty room lodging facility with a dining room that seated 40 people. The Main House and Annex (today’s Inn and Lodge)offered “rooms with electric lights and access to public bathrooms.” The main house was used for years as the Ocean Point general store and post office. Guests would travel to Ocean Point by Steamship or by train to Wiscasset and taxi to Ocean Point over corduroy roads with logs for a surface.
Capt. Warren and Mrs. Mattie Barnes discovered Ocean Point while sailing the Maine Coast. Nowhere on the coast had they seen such a dramatic open ocean setting with the view of spruce clad islands, the rugged rocky coastline and the brilliant sunsets of this western exposure. They opened the Ocean Point Inn. They hoped to expand the property and make the spectacular setting available to more people. As they expanded, they always kept in mind the importance of the wonderful view and unspoiled natural scenery.
The Barnes began their initial operation with the Main House, the Annex and a restaurant serving three meals per day. Since guests came for long stays in those days, it was customary to offer American plan rates including all meals and accommodations. During the 1950s they gradually made major improvements to the property. The old Annex was made into the Lodge with the addition of the large wrap around porches and private bathrooms. More cottages were built and the Inn was enlarged, adding dining room space, a better living room area and a comfortable lounge. What we call the “On the Rocks” part of the dining room today was a charming living room where people would meet to socialize, play cards or just curl up with a good book by the fireplace. The center dining room, now called the “Upper and Lower Deck” was the lounge – no bar to be seen – just a relaxing setting where one could enjoy a drink and look at the ocean.
In the mid 1950s the Barnes recognized the need for “modern motel style” accommodations. They purchased the Burnham farmhouse and renovated it into colonial style rooms. The motel section of the property was completed in 1964 and run almost as a separate operation. Ruth Habblitz and Flossie Turner would serve a continental breakfast and provide some entertainment and local information as well.
During the 1970s and 1980s fewer guests were staying for a month at a time or the entire season. The new guests had different needs and the Inn once again adapted to the change. Rooms were enlarged and picture windows, porches, balconies, larger beds and televisions were added. The wonderful outdoor heated pool was added at this time and it remains to this date the largest outdoor heated pool in the Boothbay Region.
In 1985 Warren and Mattie Barnes handed over the ownership of the Inn to long time employees David Dudley, Tony Krason and Mark Sweetland. The tradition of adapting to the the times continues at the Ocean Point Inn. The newest additions include the Starfish Coffee Shop which is open 7:30 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. daily, Live Entertainment one night a week and Happy Hour some afternoons each week. How long have you been coming to the Ocean Point Inn?
Welcome to our Ocean Point Inn blog. We look forward to seeing you at The Point in 2015. In the meantime, be sure to check out our 2015 rates which are now posted on our site. One of the things we are most pleased about offering you this coming season is free full hot buffet breakfast included in every room.
See our 2015 Ocean Point Inn rates and reserve today to guarantee your best room and at our best rates.
Also check out the beautiful photos our guests took of Ocean Point this past year and see our 2014 Photo Contest Winners. Have your cameras and smart phones ready for the 2015 season as we will continue out photo contest with a fun new twist – OPI selfies. Stay tuned for detail. Click here to see our 2014 Ocean Point Inn photo contest winners.
Stay well and we look forward to seeing you at The Point in 2015, our 117 season! Opening day at Ocean Point Inn is May 25, 2015.