East Brother Island Lighthouse is a lighthouse located on East Brother Island near the tip of Point San Pablo in Richmond, California. It marks the entrance to San Pablo Bay from San Francisco Bay. It was built in 1874 and automated in 1969. The lighthouse was designed by Paul Johannes Pelz, a German-American architect, best known as the main architect of the Library of Congress in Washington DC.

Although the U.S. government recognized the need for a light to mark the area, mainland property was not available at a reasonable price. Instead the government turned its attention to the island, which it already owned. Large-scale blasting leveled the island off, and the two-story keeper’s house was built with the attached tower and a fog signal building. The lamp was first lit on March 1, 1874.

Two of the most notable lighthouse keepers were John Stenmark and Willard Miller, each of whom logged twenty years of service, more than any other keepers. Originally from Sweden, Stenmark joined the lighthouse service at age twenty and distinguished himself for bravery during a boating accident. He was eventually appointed keeper at East Brother in 1894, and he lived at the station with his wife and four children. Miller began his tenure at East Brother in 1922. During his service the light was upgraded to a fixed, fifth-order Fresnel lens, powered by a 500-watt bulb. The steam fog signal was also converted to a compressor-driven diaphone. A serious accident on March 4, 1940 resulted in a fire that destroyed the island’s wharf and boathouse along with four boats.

The United States Lighthouse Service ran the lighthouse operation until 1939, when the Lighthouse Service merged with the United States Coast Guard. Large families occupied the lighthouse. They had to light the original lens wick and keep it filled with whale oil. On many foggy nights, they would have to fire up the steam boilers to drive the foghorns, hauling coal up the long ramp from the boat. After the lighthouse was automated, the government wanted to tear down the keeper’s house and other buildings, but protests from local residents prevented the demolition. The lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. After several years of neglect, a non-profit group, East Brother Light Station, Inc., was formed in 1979 to restore the landmark. Government grants, private donations, and volunteer labor restored the structures on the island, which are now used for the bed-and-breakfast.

You Can Spend the Night Here
GO TO WEBSITE
Located 30 minutes from downtown San Francisco, CA, the lighthouse Dinner, Bed & Breakfast is close enough for a weekend jaunt or as a unique complement to your San Francisco/Northern California visit. Once on the island, visitors take in the spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline, Mount Tamalpais, and the Marin coastline.
The Inn began operations over 30 years ago as a means of earning money for upkeep of the restored lighthouse and facilities.

The lighthouse offers the rare combination of both a “lighthouse dinner, bed & breakfast” and an “island Dinner, B&B,” and is a unique California destination. Though only a ten-minute boat ride to the island, the lighthouse inn seems to be a world away from the lights of the nearby cities.

Guests of East Brother Light Station have a direct impact upon its preservation. Funds earned by the Inn, through its non-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation, pay for ongoing restoration and maintenance costs of the buildings and equipment of the island. Lighthouse Dinner Bed & Breakfast guests can stay in one of five available rooms. Four of the rooms are located within the lighthouse itself and one room is located in the original Fog Signal Building. A stay at the lighthouse includes champagne & hors d’oeuvres upon arrival, a multi-course dinner with wine and a full gourmet breakfast the next morning. Guests are also provided with a full tour of the island taking in all of the buildings and being regaled with the history of the island and its life as a lighthouse up to the present day.

Keepers
Samuel M. Farran (1874–1880)
Charles F. Winsor (1880–1887)
P.J. Quinlan (1887–1894)
John O. Stenmark (1894–1914)
John P. Kofod (1914–1921)
Herbert Luff (1921)
J. Dunn (1921–1922)
Willard Miller (1922–1942)
J.S. McGrath (1942–1944)
E.P. Perry (1944-?)
Mickey Edward Thurman (Coast Guard, c. 1944-1947)

First assistants
John Cawley (1874–1881)
Joseph M. Page (1881–1883)
Albert Tippett (1883–1886)
Charles A. Paulson (1886–1888)
Charles McCarthy (1889–1890)
Martin Haave (1890–1893)
James Anderson (1893–1901)
Oscar Sellman (1901)
Charles A. Paulson (1901–1902)
John W. Astrom (1902-?)
Andrew Szarnecker (1908-?)
C.E. Clark (1909–1918)
E.C. Easton (1918)
D. O. Kinyon (1918-?)
W. Monette (1919-?)
A.H. Joost (1921)
T.F. Brown (1921-?)
F.L. Pike (1922–1926)
Roy L. Murphy (1926–1928)
Frederick S. Cobb (1928–1930)
J.H. Sylvia (1930)
W.J. Atkins (1931–1936)
Earl Snodgrass (1936–1943)
Frank Dacosta (1943-?)

Second assistants
F. Moran (1874-?)
James Rankin (c. 1878)
William McCarthy (1878–1880)