Description of Historic Place
The Lighthouse at Machias Seal Island is located on a remote treeless, 15-acre, granite island in the Bay of Fundy. The octagonal structure is distinguished by a classically arranged base, a tapered shaft and capital. A metal lantern surmounts the flared top of the shaft. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Lighthouse is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Lighthouse is associated with the provision of navigational aids for sea traffic within the Bay of Fundy shipping lanes. The present tower and previous structures on the site have served this role since 1832. Originally constructed during the colonial period of New Brunswick, and subsequently replaced, the continued presence of a Canadian lighthouse established a sovereignty claim over the island. This claim however, was disputed by the United States and not fully recognized in law until 1925.
The Lighthouse is a representation of an early and successful adaptation of evolving reinforced concrete technology to meet the functional requirements of a lighthouse. It is a relatively thin shell, retaining some classical design elements without the buttresses or internal framing supports associated with earlier examples.
The Lighthouse reinforces the picturesque maritime character of Machias Seal Island and helps to establish the Bay of Fundy as an important region for shipping. The Lighthouse is well known to the shipping community and is a regional landmark. It is also known to visitors to the island in its role as a bird sanctuary.
Lighthouse, Fog Alarm Building, Oil Storage Shed and Boathouse, Machias Seal Island Light Station, Machias Seal Island, New Brunswick. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 87-125; Lighthouse, Machias Seal Island light Station, Machias Seal Island, New Brunswick. Heritage Character Statement 87-125.
The character-defining elements of Lighthouse should be respected.
Its functional design and good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
-the building’s form and massing, consisting of an octagonal design, tall profile, with a flared platform surmounted by an iron lantern;
-its relatively thin-shelled, reinforced concrete construction material;
-the smooth, unscored surface of the concrete, which approximates the masonry typically found in a classical structure;
-the classically arranged base, delineated by a string course, tapered shaft and capital;
-the windows with pediment-shaped lintels that are located in the shaft;
-the building’s limited decorative detailing.
The manner in which the lighthouse reinforces the picturesque, maritime setting and acts as a regional landmark as evidenced by:
-the structure’s location on a rugged, open rocky island where it is the focal point of a group of simple lightstation structures;
-the Lighhtouse’s high visibility and recognition by the shipping community;
-its role as a bird sanctuary which makes it familiar to visitors of the island.