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Peter Michaud, N.H. Division of Historical Resources
(603) 271-3583

Shelly Angers, N.H. Department of Cultural Resources
(603) 271-3136

Historic New Castle Lighthouse Listed on the National Register

The New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources is proud to announce that New Castle’s Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse has been honored by the United States Secretary of the Interior with placement on the National Register of Historic Places.

Administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. It is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect our historic and archeological resources.

Established in July of 1771, Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse was the 10th of 11 pre-revolutionary war lighthouses—and the first north of Boston—to be built in the British North American colonies. The original tower, located near the present-day structure, was made of wood and 100 feet tall. This tower was later razed in 1804, due to the expansion of what is now nearby Fort Constitution, and relocated on nearby Pollock Rock as a new 80-foot octagonal wooden tower. It was later shortened by 25 feet in 1851.

The present 48-foot tower, built in 1878, is constructed of curved cast iron plates and has a brick-lined interior. It was constructed inside the old tower to insure a continuation of service for ships entering Portsmouth Harbor, and is a twin to the nearby Cape Neddick or “Nubble” Lighthouse in York, Maine.

The property has been a longtime subject of local hearsay and rumors regarding paranormal activity. An investigation by the Syfy channel’s Ghost Hunters was featured as its 2008 season finale. 

Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse is listed in the National Register along with its tower and associated Keepers Dwelling (1872) and Oil House (1903). The Friends of the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse open the tower to visitors from June through October. For more information, please visit

Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse joins a growing list of significant New Hampshire buildings, districts, sites, structures and objects that are important in defining the state’s history and character and that have been designated to the National Register for Historic Places.

For more information on the National Register program in New Hampshire, please visit or contact Peter Michaud at the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources at (603) 271-3483.

New Hampshire’s Division of Historical Resources, the “State Historic Preservation Office,” was established in 1974. The historical, archaeological, architectural and cultural resources of New Hampshire are among its most important environmental assets. Historic preservation promotes the use, understanding and conservation of such resources for the education, inspiration, pleasure and enrichment of New Hampshire’s citizens. For more information, visit or call 603-271-3483.




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