What Happened When...
Swan's Islanders petitioned Congress for a
Light House "near the mouth of the Old Harbor,
so called ..."
On August 15, the lights of the Burnt Coat
Harbor Light Station were lit for the first time.
There were two towers and two lights. A boat
entering the harbor would line up the lights to
find the harbor entrance.
The light in the smaller tower was discontinued
and the tower was later taken down.
A boat house was built for the light house dory.
A winch and hoisting gear raised it from the
water to the boat house.
The brick oil house was built to hold supplies of
kerosene, which fueled the light.
Orrin Milan took over as Light Keeper. The
Milan family lived in the keeper's house till
1932. Orrin's son Frank was the "Lighthouse
Huck Finn" whose story is on this page.
The bell tower was built, a tall pyramid with a
mechanism for ringing the bell. Weights had to
be wound up every six hours. The bell rang as
the weights descended.
Roscoe Chandler took over as Light Keeper.
The Chandler family lived in the keeper's
house till 1943.
About 1964 -
A road was built over the hill. The boat house
was removed and sold as a summer cottage.
About 1965-70 -
The mechanical system for ringing the bell was
discontinued, and the bell house was cut down
to its present shape.
The last light keeper, Philip Felch, left the
keeper's house when the Coast Guard
automated the light. The original 4th order
Fresnel lens was removed and replaced with a
light on a skeleton tower.
Swan's Islanders led by Roberta Joyce
protested the changes made by the Coast
Guard at the light station. As a result of the
protests, the tower was repainted, the light tower
was relit, and gutting of the keeper's house was
The Burnt Coat Harbor Light Station was listed
on National Register of Historic Places
The Light Station was deeded from the Coast
Guard to the Town of Swan's Island.