The Portland Breakwater Light (also called Bug Light) is a small lighthouse in South Portland, Maine. The lighthouse's flashing red beacon helped guide ships from Casco Bay through the entrance to Portland Harbor. One of the most elegant of all Maine's lighthouses, it is dubbed "the bug" because of its small size.
The lighthouse was first built in 1855, as a wooden structure, but the breakwater was extended and a new lighthouse was constructed at the end of it. The new lighthouse was made of curved cast-iron plates whose seams are disguised by six decorative Corinthian columns and charming Greek roof edge adornments called palmettes.. Its design was inspired by the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens, made well-known by engravings. The architect was Thomas U. Walter, most noted as the designer of the U.S. Capitol east and west wings and its current dome. Wooden sheds and a six-room house for the lighthouse-keeper were added incrementally as needed. In 1934 Spring Point Ledge Light was erected and the houses around Bug Light were demolished and the lighthouse keeper tended to both lighthouses. During World War II, the breakwater slowly receded, as the New England Shipbuilding Corporation built two shipyards next to the lighthouse. These shipyards produced Liberty Ships for the war effort. Because of the smaller breakwater, there was a lesser need for the lighthouse and subsequently was discontinued in 1943.
The light was fully restored in 1989 and was reactivated in 2002. It appears as a private aid to navigation in the US Coast Guard Light List as South Portland Breakwater Light. Today a park named after the lighthouse, Bug Light Park, allows visitors to view the Portland Breakwater Light up close, while memorializing the shipbuilding efforts of World War II. The light was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Portland Breakwater Light on June 19, 1973
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