Straitsmouth Island was first sighted in 1614 by Captain John Smith. He also spotted nearby Thacher and Milk Islands and named all three the Turks' Heads.
Lighting the Way
Built in 1834, the island's first lighthouse was 19 feet tall. Its construction was spurred by the increasing number of ships sailing to Pigeon Cove for cargoes of stone from Rockport's burgeoning granite industry. Marking the entrance to Rockport Harbor, the light also warned mariners of the Dry Salvages reef and Avery's Ledge.
The U.S. Lighthouse Service operated the beacon from 1834 until 1915, when the Service was absorbed by the newly formed U.S. Coast Guard. In 1941, the island facilities were declared surplus by the federal government and sold to a private party. Eventually, Straitsmouth was bought by famed naval architect William Francis Gibbs, who designed the World War II Liberty ships as well as the liner SS United States. Upon Gibb's death in 1967, his family donated the island to the Massachusetts Audubon Society.
Straitsmouth Light was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 15, 1987.
The United States of America donated this property to the town of Rockport for preservation and public use through the National Historic Lighthouse
Preservation Act. This program is administered by the National Park Service.