Ship Shoal Lighthouse
Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation/Newell Slaughter
Lighthouse awaits move to Berwick
A lighthouse off the Louisiana coast owned by the town of Berwick was placed earlier this month on the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation’s most endangered places in the state for this year.
Ship Shoal Lighthouse, located approximately 55 miles south of the Louisiana coast below Dulac, was one of 11 sites placed on the group’s list this year.
The town of Berwick took ownership of the lighthouse in the 1990s, and the idea is to move it to Berwick where it will be rehabbed and then placed next to the Southwest Reef Lighthouse as part of Lighthouse Park near the U.S. 90 bridge.
However, the town must remove the abandoned lighthouse by March 2021 or it will return to the federal government’s possession.
Berwick Mayor Duval Arthur said Friday the town will meet the deadline, and he hopes to have the lighthouse in Berwick before the end of the year.
“We will take it down, and we will bring it in, but we’ll do it in a hurried fashion,” Arthur said. “I hate to do that, but we don’t want to lose it, either. We’ll make the repairs to it after we cut it and move it in, but we’re not ready to give up on it for sure.”
The 125-foot structure will dwarf the Southwest Reef Lighthouse, which stands 37 feet tall. The Southwest Reef Lighthouse has been along Berwick Bay for more than 30 years.
“We feel like there’s enough space right there adjacent to it that we will build a platform for that lighthouse there,” Arthur said.
The two lighthouses are about the same age as the Southwest Reef Lighthouse was built in 1858 to replace Point Defer (Point Au Fer) Light Station.
The Ship Shoal Lighthouse was built at the request of the state to indicate a piece of water where there is a large sand bar underwater near Last Island. Port Richmond Ironworks in Philadelphia built the structure before taking it apart, bringing it to the site and rebuilding it onsite.
The lighthouse was no longer used as of 1965.
“Since then, the lighthouse has deteriorated from erosion, abandonment and numerous storms,” the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation said.
The group’s list of most endangered places each year is gathered through public nominations.
There have been 140 sites listed, with 38 having undergone rehab, 19 lost and the remainder is still in need of saving.
“Listing these places acknowledges their importance to the local community but also our statewide identity and economy,” the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation said in a news release.