The Hooper Strait Lighthouse, now standing on Navy Point, was originally built in 1879 to light the way for boats passing through the shallow, dangerous shoals of Hooper Strait, a thoroughfare for boats bound from the Chesapeake Bay across Tangier Sound to Deal Island or places along the Nanticoke and Wicomico Rivers. As a “screwpile” lighthouse, it is built on special iron pilings which were tipped with a screw that could be turned into the muddy bottom for a depth of 10 feet or more. CBMM’s lighthouse is the second lighthouse constructed at Hooper Strait – the first one was destroyed by ice in 1877.
By 1966, first automation and the subsequent deterioration of the structure led the Coast Guard to designate Hooper Strait Lighthouse for destruction. With support from the Historical Society of Talbot County and the designated demolition funds, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum stepped in to save the historic structure, hiring the Arundel Corporation to lift the forty-two-ton lighthouse from its pilings in two pieces and move it by barge forty miles up the Bay to St. Michaels. A Baltimore firm called Pile Drivers built a new foundation out of tubular steel on Navy Point using piles provided at cost by the Union Metal Company. The steel plates and eight-inch steel beams, donated respectively by the Easton Steel Company and the Chase Steel Company, form the support platform atop the piles. The Lighthouse arrived at its final home on November 9, 1966, and opened to the public on May 20, 1967, to much fanfare, becoming a centerpiece on CBMM’s 18-acre campus.