The name of Noank, a
village of Groton, comes from the Mohegan Indian word for "point."
Noank was a busy port in the nineteenth century. To help mariners enter
the Mystic River and the harbor of Noank, Connecticut, from Fisher's
Island Sound, the federal government decided to build a lighthouse at
Morgan Point in 1831.
Land for the light station was purchased from
shipbuilder Roswell Avery Morgan, a descendant of an early settler of
the area, Deacon James Morgan.
The first lighthouse was a 25-foot white granite tower
with a separate six-room stone keeper's house. The tower held 10 lamps
and reflectors. The first keeper, Ezra Daboll, made some additions to
the house and was reimbursed for his expenses of $100.
Daboll died in 1838 and was succeeded by his widow, Eliza, who
remained keeper until 1854. Lieut. George M. Bache reported in 1838
that "the establishment is kept in great neatness by the widow of the
former keeper." Eliza Daboll had six children, and her eldest daughter
took great interest in maintaining the light. The girl became known for
her habit of singing loudly while working at the lighthouse in foul
There were complaints that Morgan Point's Light was too dim;
the nearby lights at New London and Stonington could be seen from far
greater distances. The situation was improved somewhat in 1855 when a
sixth-order Fresnel lens replaced the old array of lamps and reflectors.
Captain Silas Spicer, who became keeper in the 1850s,
once saw a burning vessel offshore. He quickly rowed to the ship and
rescued the captain, his wife and child, bringing them safely back to
the lighthouse. The grateful family spent a few days recuperating at
The shipbuilding industry was growing in Noank by the
1860s. It was decided that a new lighthouse was needed, and
construction began in 1867. The new lighthouse, finished in 1868, was a
two-story, eight-room granite structure with a cast-iron light tower
attached to the front of the roof. The building's style was very
similar to others built in the same period at Sheffield Island, Block
Island, Great Captain Island and a few other locations.
The lighthouse was built under the supervision of a
local man named Henry Davis, who later became the U.S. Assistant
Superintendent of Lifesaving Stations.
Morgan Point Light had a second female keeper in Frances
McDonald, who took over for her husband Alexander, a Civil War veteran.
Frances McDonald kept the light from 1869 to 1871.
She was replaced by her brother, Mystic native Thaddeus Pecor,
a Civil War veteran who served 48 years at the station. There are
rumors that the ghost of Keeper Pecor still frequents the lighthouse.
One winter during Pecor's tenure, the survivors of a wreck
rowed to Morgan Point. The keeper had to cut the frozen clothing and
shoes from some of the frostbitten sailors.
The light at Crooks Ledge
today (listed as "Noank Light 5")
In 1921, the lighthouse was discontinued and
replaced by an automatic light to the east on Crooks Ledge. The
lighthouse was sold to a private party for $8,625. According to some
sources, the original lantern was destroyed in the hurricane of
September 1938; others say it was removed in the 1920s.
In 1991, the property was purchased by Jason Pilalas
from San Marino, California, a partner in an investment management firm.
Pilalas grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, near the
Great Captain Island Lighthouse that is almost identical to the one at
He set out to restore the exterior of the lighthouse to
its original appearance, while converting the interior to a comfortable
living space for his family. Herman Hassinger Architects of Moorestown,
NJ, were commissioned to do the renovation.
The interior was gutted to the granite walls. The rooms
were designed to create a more spacious feel and more interior light.
The first floor of the lighthouse became a living space and library,
while the upstairs was converted to bedrooms.
A new lantern room was fashioned of aluminum and glass
from U.S. Lighthouse Service designs, at a cost of $35,000. An
extension including a master bedroom and office was added at the back
of the lighthouse.
The Pilalas family summers at Morgan Point. Jason
Pilalas has said, "I couldn't be happier. I get so excited every time I
The lighthouse is the setting for an annual Fourth of
July party. Rena Pilalas, Jason's wife, told Coastal Living magazine,
"They sleep on couches, they sleep on the floor. They don't care --
they just like being here."
Inside the lighthouse
Two views from the lantern:
Installation of the new lantern (courtesy of the
Inside the lantern room
The grounds of Morgan Point Light are closed to the
public, and the lighthouse is difficult to see from any point on the
It can be viewed from the Sabino,
a vintage steamboat cruising the Mystic River from the Mystic Seaport
Museum, and from various other excursion boats in the area including
occasional lighthouse cruises offered by Capt. John's Sport
Fishing Center in Waterford. Jason Pilalas occasionally fires a
10-gauge cannon to entertain tour boat passengers.
The Noank Historical Society Museum houses materials relating
to the history of Morgan Point Light. The museum is open in the summer.
Noank Historical Society Museum
P.O. Box 9454
17 Sylvan Street
Noank, Connecticut 06340
You can read much more about this lighthouse in the book The
Lighthouses of Connecticut by Jeremy D'Entremont.
Keepers: Ezra Daboll (1831-1838); Eliza Daboll
(1838-1854); Silas Spicer (1854-1860); E. D. Barker (1860-1867);
Alexander McDonald (1867-1869); Frances McDonald (1869-1871); Thaddeus
Pecor (1871-1919); ? Reilly (1919-1921)