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National Park Service: Ocracoke lighthouse won't be moved, some historic structures will be lifted off ground

There were questions about whether the lighthouse should be relocated, but authorities decided it was better to raise some of the historical buildings by 2-4 feet.
Credit: National Park Service
Ocracoke lighthouse

MANTEO, N.C. — A specific plan to repair the Ocracoke Light Station, which includes an iconic Outer Banks lighthouse, was just approved by the National Park Service.

The Ocracoke Lighthouse -- in Ocracoke Village on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore -- is a historic site. So are its keepers' quarters, carpenter's shop, storehouse, cisterns, privy and oil house. 

Apart from the wear and tear of 200 years, the light station has also taken some weather damage recently.

"If the buildings are left as they are, it is expected they will be damaged further by future storms that could be exacerbated by climate change and sea level rise," a spokesperson for the National Park Service wrote.

There were questions about whether the lighthouse should be relocated, but this Wednesday, authorities decided they were going to raise some of the structures higher off the ground, keeping them where they are.

The double keepers' quarters are set to be elevated four feet; the carpenter's shop, storehouse, privy and generator by two feet.

The actual lighthouse was built in 1823, and its oil house, won't be raised.

David Hallac, the superintendent of National Parks of Eastern North Carolina, said those steps should be enough to combat stronger storms and a certain amount of sea-level rise.

He also said they'll be choosing contractors to work on the site next year after the park has decided on detailed designs. 

Aside from the elevation, all the buildings are also approved for a new coat of paint and certain repairs.

Here's what the National Park Service has outlined:

  • Remove the shotcrete from the exterior of the lighthouse and replace it with a coating that will allow appropriate protection of the masonry and moisture control
  • Replace damaged masonry, including bricks and mortar
  • Repair or replace windows with historically appropriate windows
  • Repair leaks at the top lantern and repaint
  • Recoat interior masonry
  • Expose the original stone foundation
  • As an option, replace the interior metal staircase with a wooden spiral staircase to match the original material and orientation

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