70 Lighthouse St.
Rochester, New York
Coordinates: 43°15′10″N 77°36′40″
Built in 1822
The Charlotte–Genesee Lighthouse is an 1822 stone octagonal lighthouse in the Charlotte neighborhood in northern Rochester, New York, United States. The 40 ft tower is located on Lake Ontario at the mouth of the Genesee River. It originally had 10 whale oil Argand lamps, which were replaced with a Fresnel lens in 1853
On February 28, 1881, the lighthouse was turned off. After nearby piers changed the mouth of the river, it was far from the water. The light was then moved to a pier in 1884.
In 1965, Charlotte High School students started a letter writing campaign to save the lighthouse from impending destruction. It was declared surplus in 1981 by the government. It is now owned by Monroe County and managed as a museum by the Charlotte Genesee Lightouse Historical Society, a nonprofit volunteer organization.
It is part of the Seaway Trail, a National Scenic Byway.It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also a City of Rochester Landmark. It is open to the public.
Why was the Charlotte–Genesee Lighthouse painted white? Is it a working lighthouse?
The lighthouse had not been used as an active lighthouse since 1881 when its light had been darkened and tower closed. In 2014 the Lighthouse Society raised over $34,000, through grants, to have a new light made for the tower, with the backing of the Coast Guard. The Lighthouse was always a white Lime wash from 1822 until it closed in a1881. The tower was left on its own with the top removed, windows filled in with cement and allowed ivy to grow over the building. It wasn't until the 1980's that our organization was formed and took all the ivy down, put windows in and pointed up the tower. Unfortunately, they used a cement mortar instead of a lime based material to point up the tower. Lime wash preserves the stone and allows the building to breath. The cement mortar would pop out every winter and early spring narrowly missing visitors. Additional dollars were raised to properly point the tower and historic 1822 glass along with proper frames were put in the windows. The inside of the tower was refurbished and some additional work will de done this year to complete the inside project. In November, 2014 the tower was reactivated as a working lighthouse and now appears on all Coast Guard charts and maps. One of the stipulations is the tower is to be a marker by day, thus white, and a light by night. So we are now historically correct and meet the criteria of being an active lighthouse. Our light can now be seen over 12 miles into the lake. Another benefit is many now see the tower along the beach/port and come to visit the facility not knowing where it was before. I hope you will be able to do the same some time this season.
Thank you for your inquiry.