The Outer Banks Lighthouse Society (OBLHS) was organized in fall 1994 to aid in the preservation of the lighthouses and maritime history of North Carolina and to work with the National Park Service and other agencies, both government and non-profit groups, to achieve the safe keeping of the buildings, artifacts, and records of the U.S. Lighthouse Establishment, aka Lighthouse Board, aka Bureau of Lighthouses and U.S. Lighthouse Service. Our 501 (c) 3 organization is supported by modest donations and membership fees from our members. The Outer Banks Lighthouse Society board meets once a year and maintains continual communication via email, text, and phone.
The Outer Banks Lighthouse Society (OBLHS) was organized in fall 1994 to aid in the preservation of the lighthouses in the area and work with the National Park Service and other agencies and non-profit groups to achieve the safe-keeping of the buildings, artifacts, and records of the old United States Lighthouse Establishment, a.k.a. U.S. Light-House Board, Bureau of Lighthouses, and U.S. Lighthouse Service. Our 501 (c) 3 organization is supported solely by modest donations and membership fees from our approximately 1,000 members. Our thirteen-member board meets once a year and keeps continued communication via email and phone calls.
Some of the successful OBLHS projects include:
- annual event for members which includes lighthouse visits and a dinner
- publication of an award-winning newsletter mailed to members and distributed to interested lighthouse enthusiasts
- support given the National Park Service (NPS) for the long-term protection plan in the relocation of the Cape Hatteras Light Station
- posting of articles and requests concerning NC lighthouses at networked sites within the lighthouse community at two web sites, the first is a website for information retrieval by students and teachers at http://www.outer-banks.com/lighthouse-society and a second site that is interactive for members at http://www.outerbankslighthousesociety.org
- publication of a brochure to mail and distribute for no charge to all who inquire about North Carolina Lighthouses, also available at many NC Visitors’ Centers
- sponsorship for the NPS of two structural engineer reports by lighthouse preservation experts to aid in the plans for restoration of the Bodie Island Lighthouse
- provision for funding to the NPS for the scaffolding at Bodie Island to determine the extent of needed restoration under the lantern room area
- provided research and planning to the NPS for the engraving of the foundation stones at the original site of the 1870 Cape Hatteras Lighthouse with the Keepers’ names with sponsorship from the Dare County Tourist Bureau
- planning and execution (with NPS and local community) of the successful Hatteras Keepers Descendants Homecoming which hosted over 1,100 Keepers' descendants at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse May 2001
- publication of the commemorative Hatteras Keepers Oral and Family Histories book by Cheryl Shelton-Roberts and Sandra MacLean Clunies that is based on interviews with Cape Hatteras keepers’ families, keepers’ journals, and family photographs for the Homecoming in May 2001 (no fees or royalties were paid). The book commemorates the all-volunteer event specially held for the descendants of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Keepers, including the Diamond Shoals Lightships of the old U.S. Lighthouse Service. The Outer Banks Lighthouse Society and the National Park Service cosponsored the event with the help of major sponsors including Bank of America, WRAL-TV, Lighthouse Digest/Depot, and the Dare County Tourist Bureau. No royalties or fees were paid the editor and family historian; all proceeds funded the Homecoming.
- creation of the video Growing up at the Lighthouse in September 2002. This is a 40-minute tape of the surviving Keepers' children at the Bodie Island Lighthouse. It is part of our efforts to help with the NPS restoration of the Bodie Island Lighthouse.
- support of the Outer Banks Conservationists, Inc. in their successful quest to gain permanent stewardship of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse
- purchase of architectural drawings of the NC Lights with a grant from the Frank Stick Fund that is now housed in the Outer Banks History Center in Manteo, NC
- gift to the Dare County Tourist Bureau of a seven-foot-tall model of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, engineered by Ed Chiasson of Sea-Lites
- donation of a plastic U.S. Coast Guard lens equivalent to a fourth order Fresnel lens to the reproduction of the Roanoke River Lighthouse in Plymouth, NC
- provision of an educational package, mailed free of charge to educators and students across the nation when requested
- annual awards presented to people within the lighthouse community deserving of recognition of work to help lighthouses
- held a special weekend “Two Hundred Years of Light” at the Circle of Stones at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse; special addresses by park staff and authors Homer Hickam, Kevin Duffus, and David Stick made the event memorable (October ’03)
- annual Retreat Weekend on the Outer Banks for members traveling to NC lhs and hearing special programs at historic sites including the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station and the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
- Donation of $5,000 to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum for the restoration and exhibit of the 1854 first order Fresnel lens from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Several members volunteered during the 4 week project
- Partnership with the NPS for the preservation and maintenance of the Bodie Island Lighthouse first order Fresnel lens, which OBLHS spearheaded a campaign to keep the lens in place
- Solicited donated paint for Cape Lookout from Lowe’s Home Improvement, Mooresville, NC
- Contributed $10,000 to the NPS for the repairs to the Bodie Island Lighthouse Tower. Repairs to begin in the spring of 2006 and will allow visitors to visit inside the base of the tower
- Donated $2,000 to the emergency repairs of the 1854 Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station in 2007
- Sponsored 108 school children from Southport, NC to visit and learn about Old Baldy Lighthouse in April, 2008
- Helping plan 150th celebration of light at Cape Lookout Lighthouse October/November 2009
- Sponsored 97 school children from Southport, NC to visit and learn about Old Baldy Lighthouse in April, 2009.
- Provided genealogical research for keepers’ descendants at the 150th anniversary of Cape Lookout Lighthouse in October, 2009
- Provided volunteers to help clean and crate the Bodie Island Lighthouse lens for storage during the restoration of the tower
- Sponsored the Lighthouse Learners’ program for children from Southport to visit Old Baldy Lighthouse in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Sponsored school children in Harkers Island to visit Cape Lookout Lighthouse.
- Donated emergency funds to Chicamacomico Life-Saving-Station in 2011 after Hurricane Irene moved buildings from their foundations.
- Provide materials upon request for queries from but not limited to: public visiting the Outer Banks lighthouses, interpretive rangers at OBX lights, keepers at lighthouses nationally
- Awarded $5,000 grant monies to Chicamacomico Life-Saving-Station to aid in general funds and upkeep in 2012.
- Hosted a homecoming for Bodie Island Lighthouse Keepers’ descendants in October 2013where 300 descendants and 50 volunteers attended. Provided genealogical research and published “Bodie Island Lighthouse Keepers Oral and Family Histories” in summer 2013.
The Outer Banks Lighthouse Society continues to be actively supportive to North Carolina Lighthouses. Well-known in the lighthouse community, we are often called upon to help in various ways such as serving as consultants for educational programs including PBS, The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, and other media. The society receives dozens of monthly requests for information concerning the NC Lighthouses. All projects are carried out due to the dedication of our volunteers.