Digest>Archives> December 1996

Who owns Rhode Island's Plum Beach Lighthouse?

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That's a question that the Friends of Plum Island would like to have answered.

The 1897 lighthouse under the Jamestown Bridge now sits as a rusty abandoned hulk of a time gone past. Since no one will claim ownership, the group that wants to save the lighthouse can't do any type of restoration.

The Federal Government claims that it abandoned the lighthouse when the first Jamestown Bridge was built and the ownership then shifted back to the State of Rhode Island under eminent domain. The State says the lighthouse is not on their property.

No one wants to claim ownership because of a lawsuit that has been pending in the courts for years. The lawsuit was brought about by James Osborn, who was hired to paint the lighthouse. He says he came down with an infectious disease as a result of his exposure to the pigeon guano at the lighthouse. Until the lawsuit is settled, nobody will be able to restore the lighthouse.

In the meantime, Plum Island Light sits as a lonely dark beacon to another time, waiting to be reborn again.

This story appeared in the December 1996 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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