Work is underway on $19.2M Hatteras Lighthouse renovation

By on April 12, 2024

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Restoration Project photo taken April 8, 2024. (Credit: Cape Hatteras National Seashore)

By Kip Tabb | Outer Banks Voice

The scaffolding climbs all the way to the top of the Hatteras Lighthouse. With fencing keeping visitors away, what was once an open grassy area in front of the keeper’s quarters is inaccessible from the lighthouse, and the work of landscape architecture is filled with concrete trucks and workers building new walkways and sidewalks.

With the scaffolding in place, a new beacon is ready to be installed at the top of the lighthouse, replacing a light that has been in use for more than 20 years. The new light is not meant to be a permanent replacement, but it will be able to throw a beam 15 miles out to sea. When it is installed, there will be two-day period where the lighthouse will go dark, according to Kelly Clark, Project Manager for Stone & Lime Historic Restoration Services.

Two months ago, when the work on preserving and restoring the iconic structure had just begun, flags marked where the new paths between the keeper’s quarters and lighthouse would be, and there was no scaffolding in place. Now, though the project is well underway.

The $19.2 million project is the most significant project at the lighthouse since the 1999 relocation of the lighthouse that cost $11.8 million or $22.1 million adjusted to 2024 dollars.

Groundbreaking for the project occurred in February of this year with an estimated 18 months needed to finish the work, although project engineers cautioned that there may be some unanticipated delays because of weather or unexpected conditions with the structure.

Lindsey Gravel, Assistant Project Manager for Stone & Lime, pointed to test squares on the side of the building where paint had had been stripped away using a vapor blasting system and chemical stripping.

Vapor blasting, Gravel said, is similar to pressure washing where the amount of PSI can be adjusted and will be the system that is used on the exterior and interior. “That chemical peel, we just didn’t get what we needed,” she said.

As work goes forward on stripping away years of paint, there is ongoing work to ensure that any replacement that goes into the tower will be historically accurate.  “Some things have already been completely identified for replacement,” Gravel said.

For other interior metal, the paint will be stripped off, a primer coat immediately applied “to arrest any flash corrosion,” Gravel said. “Then it gets assessed, tested, and there’s some judgment calls about what gets repaired, what gets replaced.”

Metal replacement is being handled by Allen Architectural Metals, an Alabama firm specializing in historic cast metal restoration and preservation. The company has done work on the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, among other projects.

View of the top of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Restoration Project, photo taken April 8, 2024. (Credit: Cape Hatteras National Seashore)

Part of the restoration will include reinstalling a completely accurate replica of the original First Order Fresnel Lens that was in the tower. That work is also progressing well, Gravel said. A first order Fresnel Lens weighs in at more than 1.5 tons, so the work that is being done includes the pedestal it will rest on.  And to ensure historical accuracy, the Park Service will install a clockwork mechanism that would at one time have rotated the light at a constant speed.

The light with its reflecting prisms is incredibly intricate. “I think there’s over 200 prisms in the Fresnel light, so it’s going be an incredibly beautiful light,” Gravel said.

The restoration also includes significant work on the grounds, and looking across to the Keeper’s Quarters it, looks like a construction zone with fencing surrounding the area and piles of dirt seemingly at random places on what was the lawn.

The walkways with the concrete being poured are an obvious example of the work that is being done and the sections are being poured in what is called a hopscotch style. There is open dirt between the two sections that are finished.

The work will also address drainage for the area.

“We will be grading so all the water will be setting off the site and not pooling in the walkways,” Gravel said. “Currently when it rains, it heavily pools in some areas. We’re going to improve that.”

Much of the uncertainty about a completion date for the project is because of unknowns about the interior. When constructed in 1870, the US Lighthouse Service plans called for a double wall construction, a brick inner wall within the slightly tapered outer wall. It is what gave the lighthouse its remarkable strength.

Now, 174 years later, it’s time to look at the space between the walls and see if moisture has been accumulating.

Kelly Clark, Project Manager for Stone & Lime holds the replacement beam. With Ed Milch Stone & Lime Construction Superintendent. Clark remarked that the beam was, “very heavy.” (Photo credit: Robin Snyder, NPS)

“We’re excited to open it up and see, but only on the portions that we have to. We don’t want to disturb anything that’s sound. [But] there are some cracks running up the interior,” Gravel said. “So the timeline is uncertain. We don’t know what we’ll find. It could take weeks. It could take months.”

But, Gravel adds, “She’s in great condition.”

Gravel’s assessment is shared by Edrie Eichler, NPS Construction Manager Representative.

“It’s a very sound structure. When it’s very windy outside, when you walk into the lighthouse, you don’t hear anything,” she said. “It’s one of the most iconic historic structures in the country. And it’s a complete restoration. As a person who’s into architecture and historical preservation, it’s like the dream project.”


Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).



  • Treasure

    The lighthouse is a Treasure for sure, BUT with all of the needs in NC, it the the best use of the Millions?

    Monday, Apr 15 @ 10:26 am
  • Part Time OBX'r

    All donated funds Karen.

    Monday, Apr 15 @ 11:57 am