The first light in the harbor was a privately-built shack on the beach with a lamp that hung in a window. It was erected by Daniel Snow Hallett, who was assisted in his lightkeeping duties by his son, Daniel Bunker Hallett.
Daniel Bunker Hallett remembered later:
In 1848, Congress authorized the building of a proper lighthouse at South Hyannis for $2,000. A 19-foot (to the base of the lantern), conical brick tower was built, and the light went into service on May 7, 1849. A system of five oil lamps and parabolic reflectors produced a fixed white light, 43 feet above the water, with a red sector warning mariners away from dangerous Southwest Shoal. Two years later, an additional $800 was appropriated for a wooden keeper's dwelling, attached to the lighthouse by a covered walkway.
Daniel Snow Hallett was appropriately appointed keeper, but he was replaced two years later for political reasons. His brother, Capt. Almoran Hallett, served as keeper for eight years starting in 1853.
A fifth-order Fresnel lens replaced the original lighting apparatus in 1856, and a new cast-iron lantern was installed in 1863. In 1885, a range light was added on the nearby Old Colony Railroad Wharf, a simple lamp hoisted to the top of a 20-foot tower.
Captain John A. Peak, former commander of a lighthouse tender and part of a family dynasty of local lighthouse keepers, took over at Hyannis Harbor Light after Alonzo Lothrop's resignation and remained until his own ill health forced him to retire in 1915. Peak's father and grandfather had both been keepers of the light at Point Gammon. His father John was also the first keeper of Bishop and Clerks Light.
Captain Peak let some of the local children help with lighthouse chores, like polishing the brass parts of the tower. He also provided sailing lessons for local youngsters, provided they knew how to swim.
A 1922 inspection indicated that a kerosene-fueled lamp and a fifth-order Fresnel lens were in use at the time. The report stated that access to the station was via road from town. The keeper had no boat and there was no landing place for a boat other than a small beach.
Waldo Leighton, who became keeper in 1915, described the station as "a wonderful location, a nice place to live, a picturesque site overlooking the whole bay." Waldo Leighton was the last keeper of the lighthouse, moving to Nobska Point Light in Woods Hole when Hyannis Harbor Light was discontinued in 1929. On July 4 of that year, the Hyannis Patriot reported:
The closing of the lighthouse recalled to the mind of many of the older residents incidents connected with the light during its 80 years of service and also the staunch-hearted men who kept its light burning through fog and storm.
The entire lantern room was removed from the lighthouse, while the range light continued as an acetylene gas beacon.
A.W. Fuller bought the lighthouse at auction for $7,007 and subsequently sold it to Annie V. Stevenson. The property has since passed through several hands. The present owners, Janice Hyland and Alan Granby, who are antique dealers, built a new top for the tower. It's not a traditional lantern, but it reportedly provides a great view at sunset.
You can get a good view of the lighthouse and house if you walk to the east from the parking lot at Keyes Beach on Sea Street in Hyannis. You can read much more about this lighthouse in the book The Lighthouses of Massachusetts by Jeremy D'Entremont.