In December 1916, the original Oak Orchard Lighthouse was swept away in a violent winter storm. In 2010, a grassroots effort enabled construction of a square pyramidal replica of the Oak Orchard Lighthouse on firmer ground on the east side of the Oak Orchard River in Point Breeze. It houses local maritime historical artifacts and a gift shop. Visitors are allowed to climb the lighthouse keeper’s ladder to the 3rd floor to get up close to the light and enjoy spectacular vistas of Lake Ontario.
Thousands have visited the Oak Orchard Lighthouse at Point Breeze, Oak Orchard Harbor on Lake Ontario since the historic reconstruction was completed in 2010. The lighthouse is one of the jewels in the Great Lakes Seaway Trail – the guest log has been signed by visitors from all around the world, including New Zealand, Turkey, Germany, Alaska, Ireland, Canada, and all states in the union.
It’s been an amazing journey since the Oak Orchard Lighthouse Committee formed in 2003 to rebuild the historic structure based on a detailed 1909 survey of the old lighthouse. The committee became incorporated in 2004 as the Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum, a non profit organization provisionally chartered under the NYS Education Department Board of Regents. The lighthouse was completed by the efforts of the:
- Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum Committee
- New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
- Orleans County
- Community determination.
Engineering and construction was provided by professionals from Rochester, NY by competitive bid:
- Chatfield Engineers, PC
- Simbari Designs, Architect
- Nathaniel General Contractors.
The original light was of the 4th Order, manufactured by Barbier, Benard & Turenne, Paris, with a 360° lens lantern, fixed white light characteristic, and a 5 day tank attachment. The light in the historic re-construction is an Automatic Power Model 250 AC Marine LED Lantern with a 250 mm Fresnel 360° lens. The light is regulated as a Private Aid to Navigation with a 2 Nautical Mile limit, and permitted to operate from April 1 to November 1 by U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Coast Guard.
The Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum Committee continues to raise funds to secure a suitable site to construct a museum to preserve maritime history of the area and region. Plans include:
- a bootleg room
- a room dedicated to the International Snipe Class racing sailboat
- a celebration of an incident that occurred at the harbor during the War of 1812.
Subjects such as these have a solid place in history in the Point Breeze and Western New York areas, with more stories yet to be told. We invite you to participate in any of the projects to help preserve our heritage.