Roanoke River Lighthouse

Built back in 1886, the fully restored Roanoke River Lighthouse now stands proudly in the harbor at Edenton. 

It started as a guide for ships navigating the waters of the Roanoke River in 1887. Then, after being decommissioned in 1941, it was moved by barge across the sound to private land, where it slowly deteriorated as a neglected residence.

But, today’s story began in 1955.

Elijah Tate, a waterman and former Lighthouse Service employee, purchased the Roanoke River Lighthouse from the Coast Guard, along with two others, for $10 each. 

Learning how to move these lighthouses the hard way, he dropped each of the first two into the water while moving them across the water.

Tate sold the third one to his friend, Emmett Wiggins, and this one made it to shore.

The lighthouse was a rental property and later his home until his death in 1995 at 74.

In 2003, the Lighthouse was heavily damaged by Hurricane Isabel. The worst storm to hit the region in decades. But, because it was the last remaining screw-pile lighthouse in North Carolina, many lept into action to save the historic property.

In May 2007, the Edenton Historical Commission purchased the Lighthouse for $225,000 and paid more than $75,000 to have it moved to Colonial Park at Edenton Harbor, repaired, and restored, where it stands proudly today.

It’s a beautiful, iconic building and a popular spot for visitors and residents alike.

Today, the lighthouse-turned home-turned-symbol of Edenton stands because people have protected, cared for, and invested in it.

It’s a rare structure because two of its nearest neighbors vanished in the water decades ago.

But, what’s even rarer is the passion for capturing, keeping, and preserving buildings like this.

It’s why you are reading this and why we’ve had such a banner year for tourism here in Edenton.

So, next time you swing by, whether for a weekend or a week. Don’t forget to stop at the Roanoke River Lighthouse.


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