Bald Head Island Lighthouse is currently North Carolina's oldest standing lighthouse. The lighthouse is also known as Old Baldy. This lighthouse helped mariners find Cape Fear River and Wilmington, North Carolina. The National Register of Historic Places added this landmark to its register in 1975. Since then, the Old Baldy Foundation has worked hard to keep this piece of North Carolina history.
A large, empty sand dune marked where the Cape River emptied into the Atlantic Ocean before Old Baldy. Mariners would use this area to navigate when looking for the Cape Fear River. When referring to a “head,” mariners mean a high point of a section of land. Mariners also used the term “bald” to describe the emptiness of the land. Hence the name Bald Head Island.
The purpose of Old Baldy was to direct traffic to the Cape Fear River and Wilmington, North Carolina. Wilmington was experiencing an increase in maritime traffic to its ports. As a result, the lighthouse debuted on December 23, 1794.
The federal government chose Abishai Woodward to build the Bald Head Lighthouse. Woodward imported almost 60,000 bricks and a wrought iron lantern to finish the project. These materials came from Philadephia, Pennsylvania.
Due to erosion of the west beach, the demolition of the original lighthouse took place in 1813. Three years later, Daniel Way won the bid to rebuild Bald Head Island Lighthouse. Under Way’s construction, Old Baldy had an octagonal shape. Way also combined recycled bricks with newly-pressed bricks to build the 110-foot walls. Those bricks had a covering of stucco to protect against the elements and erosion. On April 1, 1817, Old Baldy was complete.
Bald Head Island Lighthouse has a foundation called The Old Baldy Foundation. Photographs, artifacts, and more to preserve the history of the Smith Island Complex. The foundation has a collections committee that manages the collection. The Old Baldy Foundation’s Board of Directors chooses the members of the committee
The Old Baldy Foundation publishes this information online. People can check out newspaper clippings, pamphlets, correspondence, and photographs on Old Baldy.
For more information on the collection, contact McAllie Givens. You can reach her at 910-457-7481 or [email protected]
The Old Baldy Foundation hosts several special events and programs, including:
There are several ways that people can support The Old Baldy Foundation: