The Lake Lenape Lighthouse in Mays Landing, New Jersey was never a real lighthouse in the sense of the word, but it truly is a part of New Jersey's rich and interesting history as well as a popular landmark of the area.
It was back in 1939 when the Leiling family, who owned the Lenape Park, commissioned Herman Dehn Sr. to build a lighthouse on the lake. First Dehn had to create an island for the lighthouse to be built on. He did this by using bags of mixed concrete and 30-gallon size drums to form the island's foundation. In the winter time he piled dirt onto the ice which would sink to the bottom in the spring thaw.
Once the island was completed he built the 65-foot wooden tower with mostly simple hand tools and the help of some neighborhood children. The lighthouse with its five floors, connected with a semi-sprial staircase took four years to complete.
For many years the tower was known as the "singing tower" because of the hymns that were played from speakers that were installed atop the tower. When new owners, Ed & Winnie Young, took over the park in 1960's, local public officials said there were to many complaints from neighbors about the music and it had to stop. The children of the Youngs then took over the lighthouse, spending the nights there in the summer months.
Today, the lighthouse serves mainly as a storage building for beach and boating supplies, but is still a popular spot for those in love. Because of its romantic setting, many people have been married at the lighthouse.
The old lighthouse is an ongoing financial strain for the owners, who say they are constantly having to repair something at the lighthouse and have been for 15 years. But they haven't altered it and as Mr. Young once said, "We want to keep the nostalgia of the place and the lighthouse is a big part of that."
This story appeared in the
July 1999 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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