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The Morris Island Lighthouse off Folly Beach

When most people think of Charlestonís history, they think of famous war sites or the architecture found in downtown Charleston.† Although the Morris Island lighthouse is one of the most photographed ...

When most people think of Charlestonís history, they think of famous war sites or the architecture found in downtown Charleston.† Although the Morris Island lighthouse is one of the most photographed historic structures in Charleston, it sometimes gets overlooked by tourists coming to the area.† For locals, the lighthouse is a very recognizable symbol and also a topic that had been in the news for the past few years.† Iíve included some information about the lighthouseís history for locals and tourists alike so that we can better appreciate this historic landmark.†

The Morris Island Lighthouse is one of two lighthouses in Charleston, SC.† Since it is located only about 300 yards off the north end of Folly Beach, the lighthouse has become somewhat of a symbol for Folly Beach and even James Island.† The Morris Island Lighthouse has received a lot of attention recently because the island it sits on has shifted dramatically.†

When the lighthouse was built in 1876, fifteen buildings surrounded it on Morris Island for the keeper and his family.† And, most people donít know that it was painted with black and white stripes after the Bodie Lighthouse in North Carolinaís Outer Banks.† Problems began in 1889 when jetties were built to improve the channel leading into the Charleston Harbor.† These jetties changed the currents around the channel, threatening Morris Island with erosion.† Due to this erosion, some of the buildings surrounding the lighthouse were moved to a safer area, and the light was automated in 1938.†

By 1962 the Morris Island lighthouse was decommissioned and replaced with the lighthouse on Sullivanís Island.† When the United States Coast Guard announced that it was going to tear down the lighthouse, Charleston residents collected a petition to save it.

The Morris Island Lighthouse passed through the hands of several private owners from 1965 to 1999, when an organization called Save the Light purchased it for $75,000.† Save the Light has raised over $700,000 to preserve the Morris Island Lighthouse.† What began as a grass-roots campaign is now a three-hundred-member organization with money and support coming from people as far away as Italy.† Save the Light plans to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to preserve the lighthouse.† You can read more about Save the Light on their website.

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