Renovations at the Point Lookout Lighthouse at Point Lookout State Park in Scotland are almost complete after over two years of work.
The park, located on a peninsula between the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River, was once the location of a camp which imprisoned over 50,000 Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. According to the park’s website, the lighthouse was built in 1830 by John Donahoo and stands at the north entrance to the Potomac River. In 1965, Maryland’s State Forest and Park Service began the creation of Point Lookout State Park.
Dave Decker, a Southern Regional Engineer for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, told Southern Maryland News on Monday, the historical restoration of the lighthouse, along with a nearby bowie shed, coal shed and smoke house, began in June 2018. Although the renovations are not complete yet, “they are very close to being finished,” he said.
The contractor responsible for the construction is WM Davis, and once they turn the buildings over for a substantial completion inspection by the state’s Department of General Services, which Decker said would probably be ready by mid-September, they’ll have two months to complete a punch list of remaining items.
As these four structures date back to the Civil War era, the goal of the renovations was to bring the buildings as close to their original state as possible, Decker said.
In addition to the renovations, some auxiliary items are also being done, including landscaping, installation of an updated drainage system and other facility improvements. He said a separate element incorporates some exhibits in the lighthouse and bowie shed.
“That will be handled as a separate contract, which I expect will go out to bid soon,” Decker said, adding that he estimates the exhibits to be complete by next spring.
Bob Crickenberger, chairman of Friends of Point Lookout State Park, shared this week the lighthouse was built to decrease the number of shipwrecks caused by shoals on the Potomac River. “Anyone traveling on the Potomac River had to pass it,” he said.
The lighthouse is one of the few remaining of Donahoo’s dozen lighthouses, all built in Maryland and Virginia. Crickenberger said the structure has seen several additions and renovations since it was erected.
Crickenberger mentioned the lighthouse was a significant Civil War site, while a hospital was built nearby to care for wounded Union soldiers, along with the prison camp to hold Confederate prisoners, thousands of whom died from disease, poor sanitary conditions and other reasons.