Apart from identifying this as a lighthouse, the caption of this postcard gets none of its facts straight. This, of course, is one of the famous Twin Lights, located on Thacher Island, not “Thatchers.” It is generally referred to as the south tower, not the eastern tower, and it is in Rockport, not Gloucester.
Thacher Island is about a mile off the coast of Rockport. Its two lighthouses are identical in construction and both were completed in 1861, according to the website of the Thacher Island Association. “They are each 124 feet high and stand about 164 feet above the waterline. They are constructed of solid granite on the outside and a two foot thick inner wall of brick,” the website says.
The island gets its name from Anthony and Elizabeth Thacher, who were shipwrecked there in 1635 while sailing from Ipswich to Marblehead. The ship’s 21 other passengers, including the Thacher’s four children, all drowned. Two months after the shipwreck, the Massachusetts legislature gave Thacher ownership of the island “as his inheritance.”
The first lighthouses were built on Thacher in 1771, two 45-foot tall structures. Ninety years later, the Twin Lights were completed. In 2001, the Twin Lights were designated a National Historic Landmark.
The south tower pictured here is now owned by the town of Rockport. The north tower is owned by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and managed by the town as a wildlife refuge.
The Thacher Island Association website has information on visiting the island and on its history. A book published last year, Twin Lights of Thacher Island, Cape Ann, by Rockport resident Paul St. Germain, tells the history of the island through old photographs. It is a fascinating book. You can buy it through the association’s website by clicking on “store.”
This postcard is published by the Hugh C. Leighton Company, Portland, Maine, and printed in Germany. It is postmarked Aug. 29, 1910.