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Rose Island is about 18 acres in size. It consists of a wildlife refuge, the lighthouse, and the Fort Hamilton Barracks. Between March 1 and August 15 public access around the perimeter of Rose Island is restricted for nesting birds. In the winter, from late October to early April, you can often see harbor seals resting on Citing Rock on the east side of Rose Island, which is surrounded by extensive underwater eel grass beds.
A mile offshore, beyond the reach of Newport’s utility lines and services, the Rose Island Lighthouse stands as an independent, energy-efficient building that was home to keepers and their families for over a hundred years.
After the Newport Bridge was built the Light Station was abandoned as an aid to navigation. For the next 14 years it fell victim to scavengers, vandals and the weather. In 1984, volunteers of the Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation restored it to its 1912 appearance, installing environmentally sensitive utilities for electricity, water, sewer, and heat. On August 7, 1993, after the funds had been raised to pay all the restoration bills, the beacon was joyously relit. Rose Island Light is once again listed on today’s charts as a private aid to navigation. The Lighthouse is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Visitors of all ages can learn about the Lighthouse’s history and can experience, first-hand, the keeper’s self-sufficient, resourceful way of life…learning that lasts a lifetime.