From left, Rose Island Lighthouse and Fort Hamilton Trust Board of Directors member Ryan Patrick Kelley, Rep. Lauren H. Carson, Trust President Lisa Morrison and Executive Director Sean O’Connor in the House of Representatives chamber yesterday.

STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of the restoration of the Rose Island Lighthouse by passing a resolution sponsored by Rep. Lauren Carson.

The resolution (2023-H 6432) celebrates the work by the Rose Island Lighthouse and Fort Hamilton Trust (RILFHT) to restore the Rose Island Lighthouse after its 1970 decommissioning by the federal government, and the island itself, which at one point was considered for private development.

RILFHT began in 1984, when a group of Newporters joined forces to save the historic 1869 lighthouse, which by then had been vandalized and fallen into disrepair. They convinced the city of Newport to take ownership of the lighthouse from the federal government in 1985, and embarked on a volunteer effort to restore it.

They completed the work and turned the light back on for the first time in 20 years on August 7, 1993 — National Lighthouse Day. The lighthouse is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is open to the public as a museum, restored to what it looked like in the early 20th century. Visitors can also book an overnight stay in the lighthouse, which offers four guest rooms.

The island was once occupied by the Navy, which operated Fort Hamilton there, but abandoned it after World War II. In 1999, the foundation purchased the rest of the island from a private owner who had intended to develop it. Now it is the Rose Island Wildlife Refuge, revegetated and home to many birds.

Representative Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport) along with Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), last year sponsored successful legislation (2022-H 7097,  2022-S 3061) that offers Rhode Island drivers the opportunity to order a special license plate showcasing the Rose Island Lighthouse, with proceeds benefiting the RILFHT.  

“Rose Island and the Rose Island Lighthouse are treasures to Newport, Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island. They are a magnificent representation of the Ocean State’s heritage, and I am very grateful to the members of the Rose Island Lighthouse and Fort Hamilton Trust for the work they’ve done for decades to ensure their preservation. I’m proud to congratulate them on the 30th anniversary of the lighthouse’s restoration, and I appreciate all they’ve done to maintain the beauty of lighthouse and the island for all to enjoy,” said Representative Carson.

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