The Morris Island Lighthouse off Folly Beach is one of two lighthouses in Charleston, SC. Since it is located only about 300 yards off the north end of Folly Beach, the lighthouse has become somewhat of a symbol for Folly Beach and even James Island. The Morris Island Lighthouse has received a lot of attention recently because the island it sits on has shifted dramatically.
When the lighthouse was built in 1876, fifteen buildings surrounded it on Morris Island for the keeper and his family. And, most people don’t know that it was painted with black and white stripes after the Bodie Lighthouse in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Problems began in 1889 when jetties were built to improve the channel leading into the Charleston Harbor and downtown Charleston. These jetties changed the currents around the channel, threatening Morris Island with erosion. Due to this erosion, some of the buildings surrounding the lighthouse were moved to a safer area, and the light was automated in 1938.
By 1962 the Morris Island lighthouse was decommissioned and replaced with the lighthouse on Sullivan’s Island. When the United States Coast Guard announced that it was going to tear down the lighthouse, Charleston residents collected a petition to save it.
The Morris Island Lighthouse passed through the hands of several private owners from 1965 to 1999, when an organization called Save the Light purchased it for $75,000. Save the Light has raised over $700,000 to preserve the Morris Island Lighthouse. What began as a grass-roots campaign is now a three-hundred-member organization with money and support coming from people as far away as Italy. Save the Light plans to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to preserve this Charleston lighthouse. You can read more about Save the Light on their website, www.savethelight.org