This is the Bluff Point Lighthouse, one of the only lighthouses on Lake Champlain to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Overlooking the site of one of the most important naval battles of the American Revolution (AKA the Battle of Valcour), the Lighthouse was built for $15,000 and placed into service in the spring of 1874. Its charge was to guide ships through the channel running between its location on Valcour Island and the New York shore.
In 1876, Major William Herwerth, a disabled veteran, was appointed keeper of the Bluff Point Lighthouse but soon weakened with kidney disease and his wife, Mary, assumed much of the responsibility tending the light. William eventually passed in 1881 and shortly after the local newspaper reported, “The widow of the late Major Herwerth has recently been appointed to the same office” and “work connected with the office will be just as faithfully done as ever, and this has for years been considered one of the best kept lighthouses on the lake.” Mary J. Herwerth faithfully kept the light until 1902.
In 1930, an automatic light was erected to replace the manned lighthouse and in 1954, a Massachusetts dentist, Dr. Raboff, purchased the light station and 13 acres of surrounding land for a summer residence. In the 80’s, Dr. Raboff offered the property to the State of New York who owned the rest of the Island as part of the Adirondacks, but refused to give up the property unless the lighthouse was preserved. A compromise was reached where the state would purchase the land for $40,000 and own the lighthouse, but the Clinton County Historical Association (CCHA) would be responsible for maintaining the structure. This price was far less than other offers made to the Raboff’s, but his wife said “things like the lighthouse are like footprints, and if you destroy them, you’re destroying history.”
CCHA has kept its end of the deal restoring the interior of the lighthouse, developing several interpretive displays on its history AND offering guided tours every Sunday in July and August from 1pm-3pm. So hop on a boat or in a kayak this summer and check out this piece of Adirondack Coast history!