In 1792, the land upon which the Charlotte-Genesee
Lighthouse now stands was settled by the Hincher family.
They settled on a hill which overlooked the west bank of the
Genesee River as it emptied into Lake Ontario. When William
Hincher died in 1822, his widow Mehitable sold the federal
government 3.25 acres of land for $400 to build a lighthouse
on the site. Commercial trade on Lake Ontario had been
steadily growing, and the new lighthouse was to guide ships
into the Port of Rochester, NY. The tower itself was built
in what was then the village of Charlotte.
The new stone lighthouse was forty feet high, and lit by ten
Argand lamps fueled with whale oil. In 1853, the light
received a fourth-order Fresnel lens, and the wooden tower
steps were replaced with cast iron In 1863, the keeper's
residence was replaced with the current structure.
The original lighthouse was built close to the lake. In
1829, piers were built to prevent the formation of sandbars
at the mouth of the river, which had previously made entry
into the river quite difficult. Over time, sand built up
along the piers, and filled in some of the area along the
river. Over time, the pier was lengthened, and the beach
grew longer. Slowly, the lighthouse was
"moved" further from the lake.
A light was built at the end of the pier in 1838, and eventually
blown down by the wind. A cast-iron tower built in 1880 was eventually
moved to Cleveland.
In 1881, the lighthouse was removed from service. The
lantern room and lens were moved in 1884 to the new west pier light.
The pier light was replaced in
1931, and again in 1995 by the current cylindrical white and
red tower. The Lighthouse Service continued to use the
keeper's residence until 1940, when the Coast Guard assumed
control. The house became the residence of the Coast Guard
In 1965, amid rumors that the lighthouse would be torn down,a
letter campaign by students of Charlotte High School saved
the light. The lighthouse and residence were declared
surplus by the U.S. Government in 1981, and the lighthouse
was turned over to the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse
Historical Society. Students from Edison Tech High School
built a new lantern room of wood atop the tower, and the
Coast Guard loaned a fourth-order Fresnel lens from the
Cleveland, Ohio Lighthouse. the tower was relit in June
1984. In 1991, the site was deeded to Monroe County, which
leases the lighthouse to the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse
Historical Society. The keeper's house and garage now house
a museum and gift shop.
Seaway Trail Lighthouses (2nd Edition), Tinney, Burdett-Watkins p. 25
A Traveler's Guide to 100 Eastern Great Lakes Lighthouses, Penrose, p. 45
Lighthouses of the Seaway Trail (video)
Flyer, Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse Historical Society