In early 1827, Captain John Tibbetts of Troy, New York deeded three acres of land near the point where Lake Ontario flows into the St. Lawrence River to the Federal Government, and that May articles of agreement were signed between Elbridge Potter and John Canfield, collector of customs at Sackets Harbor, wherein Potter agreed to build a lighthouse, lantern, dwelling house, kitchen, and an outhouse on the parcel. All the construction was to be completed at a cost of $1,747 by October 1st. The lighthouse, whose diameter was to be eighteen feet at the base and nine feet at the top, was to be built of stone with a height of thirty feet. The dwelling was to be thirty-four by twenty feet with two rooms, divided by an entry and fireplace, on the first floor. Stairs in the entry led to the second floor where chambers were to be lathed and plastered.
Placed in operation in 1827, Tibbetts Point Lighthouse exhibited the light of nine lamps set in fourteen-inch reflectors from its octagonal lantern room, and its first keeper was Judah Williams. In an 1838 report, Naval Lieutenant C.T. Platt found this “very useful light” to be in “bad order” and the associated keeper’s dwelling to be in a “bad condition.” The dwelling’s roof and the lantern atop the tower both leaked. The tower required a new coat of Roman cement, and the dwelling needed “a little painting.” All these repairs, according to Platt, could be made for an estimated one hundred and twenty-three dollars.In 1852, the Lighthouse Board, responding to a “numerously signed” petition from parties interested in commerce on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, requested funds to rebuild the “notoriously inefficient light long neglected on Tibbett’s Point.” Congress provided $5,000 on March 3, 1853, and the work was completed on July 15, 1854. The tower’s sparkling new fourth-order Fresnel lens, illuminating 270° of the horizon, was first activated a few weeks later on August 1st. The following description of the lighthouse was printed in papers:
The second Fresnel light on the great northern lakes has recently been erected at Tibbett’s Point, Lake Ontario. The shaft is of brick work, 47 feet high, and 12 ½ feet in diameter at the base. The lantern is an octagon, 6 ½ feet in diameter, and 15 feet high, comprising seven lights of French plate glass, 40 by 30, and 3/8 ths of an inch in thickness, clear as crystal—the eighth, or remaining side of the octagon, being an iron door.
Tibbetts Point Lighthouse Historical Society