The historic Browns Point Lighthouse is located on the eastern entrance to Commencement Bay on the way to the Port of Tacoma from the Puget Sound. This lighthouse has been a special focal point in the community for more than a century.
The history of the lighthouse is fascinating and unique. The original fixed white lens lantern was placed on a simple white post on December 12th, 1887, just two years before Washington became a state. At that time, Browns Point and the hills surrounding it were covered in timber. The point was part of the Puyallup Indian Reservation and owned by an Indian named Joe Douette. By 1901, the US Government deemed the simple lantern insufficient to assist ships entering Commencement Bay and the Government bought the Lighthouse for $3,000 from the Puyallup Tribe.
In 1903, the first Lighthouse was erected with a large fog bell and the first keepers of the Lighthouse were Oscar Brown and his wife Annie. Every evening at sundown Oscar would light the lamp in the attic and at sunrise, he would put it out again. Browns Point is known as the point on Puget Sound with the longest periods of dense fog. When the fog was settled around the lighthouse, Keeper Brown would wind the fog bell every 45 minutes to keep it striking every 20 seconds. Keeper Brown was a diligent keeper and always willing to help anyone in need.
The current 34 ft structure was built in 1933 in art-deco design. The other structures on the property are a Keeper’s Cottage, boathouse, crew’s quarters, oil house and pump house. The recent restoration of the outbuildings really brings to life how the 20th century light keepers lived.
Keeper Brown retired in 1939, after 36 years at Brown Point. In fact, the lighthouse had only three more keepers until it was automated in 1963. The next year, in 1964, Brown’s Point was converted into a public park and is still open for picnics and playtime toady! Currently, the keepers dwelling is available to be rented on a weekly basis. It is furnished with period pieces and if you rent out the cottage, you get to play lighthouse keeper! Your duties as a modern day lighthouse keeper include conducting tours, raising & lowering the flag and logging weather data.
For more information or to secure your post as keeper for a week, click here!