Roanoke River Lighthouse (1886 Restoration)

Edenton, NC


Latitude:  36° 03' 21.8" N

Longitude:  76° 36' 39.3" W



Built in 1886 to replace its predecessor destroyed by a fire in 1885, the fully restored Roanoke River Lighthouse now stands proudly in the harbor at Edenton, North Carolina. The lighthouse first served as a guide for ships navigating the waters of the Albemarle Sound into the Roanoke River, leading to the profitable ports at Plymouth and Edenton. The water-bound light station was decommissioned in 1941, was moved by barge across the sound to private land, and was subjected to neglect, which affected its deterioration. But help was on the way.    


The lighthouse is believed to be the last extant example in the United States of a square frame building built for a screwpile light. Its design is of the screwpile type, but unlike many others, its twenty-four wooden piles are driven straight down with a support frame of iron. It houses a fourth-order Fresnel lens on loan from the U.S. Coast Guard. Its design also differs from other screwpiles in that it has two stories with the tower set off to one side of the structure. This possibly afforded keepers and their families more room during a time when families were allowed to live at the lighthouse.  


The original lighthouse was purchased by the Edenton Historical Commission from

Emmett Wiggins who successfully moved the lighthouse by barge to a spit of land just west of Edenton. Subsequently, it was given to the state of North Carolina whereupon a group of devoted volunteers, public officials, and preservation enthusiasts relocated it to its final home. In 2009, with over two million dollars in state funds, the structural restoration was complete and the lighthouse was open to the public. Donations of nineteenth century furnishings help to give the lighthouse an authentic 1886 appeal.


For more information, visit the main Roanoke River Lighthouse, Edenton, North Carolina website. 


The lighthouse is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $3.50 for adults, $1.75 for youth (3-12), and free for children 2 years of age and under (must be accompanied by an adult).    


To schedule a group tour or an event at the lighthouse, contact Historic Edenton State Historic Site by email:, or call 252-482-0300.


More information about the lighthouse, the Historical Edenton Commission at the Penelope Barker House, and the Edenton Museum Trail can be found at the Penelope Barker House Welcome Center website, or by calling 252-482-7800.


From Elizabeth City, take US 17 South to Edenton. Take U.S. Business 17 into town and follow Broad Street. Following South Broad Street, turn right onto Water Street. The lighthouse is visible along the waterfront overlooking Edenton Bay.