Cape Poge Light Station

Cape Poge Light Station – Martha’s Vineyard

By Mary Moran

An island located east of Martha’s Vineyard, named Chappaquiddick, is home to the Cape Poge (or “Pogue”) light station. In 1801, Congress appropriated $2,000. in order to construct the lighthouse at the northeast tip of the island to help make a safe entrance for ships into the nearby harbor. The light house was needed because fishing and whaling was increasing in the surrounding waters and traffic had increased greatly. A four acre property was chosen for the station and in November of the same year, The Cape Poge light would officially go into service as an active aid for navigation. The lighthouse stood 35 feet tall and was octagonal in shape. A small keeper’s home, consisting of only two rooms, was also built on the property. Both structures were constructed of wood and the fixed white light of Cape Poge shone approximately 55 feet above the mean water level on the island. The first light-keeper, Matthew Mayhew, was appointed by Thomas Jefferson himself. He made a yearly salary of two hundred dollars while at his post.

In 1825, it was reported that approximately two out of the four acres of the Cape Poge property had been lost to erosion. Subsequently, the keeper’s house was moved back, away from the shore. With erosion being a never-ending threat, the lighthouse and house would endure multiple movements and upgrades in the years to come. After the tower’s first push back from the waters in 1838, it was decided six years later that the structure needed to be rebuilt. Winslow Lewis reported, in 1844, that the tower “was rotten from base to roof.” He took on the endeavor and erected a new wooden structure with all new lighting equipment totaling $1,600. Lewis would continue updating the structure in 1857. At that time, he replacing the lighting equipment with a fourth-order Fresnel lens and placed it into a new, freshly installed lantern.

Nearly 21 years later, in 1878, the keeper’s home was once again in danger of being engulfed by the always hungry sea. The house was replaced in 1880 by a much larger structure, due to the need of also housing an assistant keeper. Following in the new house’s footsteps, a new wooden lighthouse was built in 1893. Although this structure was only meant to be a temporary fix, it is still standing to this day.

Since 1907, Cape Poge light has been moved an additional four times to evade water damage and devastation from the sea. Erosion has proven to be the constant and inevitable struggle for this light, and will continue to be for the duration of this historical structure’s existence.

As technology advanced, so did the lighthouse. In 1943, the light was fully automated, leaving no need for a keeper or an assistant. Both were let go from their duties. The keeper’s house was sold privately in 1954 and it was subsequently demolished for the use of its lumber. In recent years, more drastic moves were taken in protecting the life-saving light. In 1986 lifted by an army helicopter in 1987, the lighthouse was moved another 500 feet from the shore’s edge. In October of 1997, the entire lantern was taken back to Falmouth, then transported to New Bedford, where it was completely restored and repainted. After its return to the island, the Cape Poge lighthouse went back into service and remains an active navigational aid to this day. Although the location of the lighthouse remains extremely remote to the public, records show the beautiful old structure has thousands of visitors a year. The property is managed by the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge and amazing 90-minute tours are offered in-season by the Trustees of Reservations. To reach the light, there is a connecting barrier beach from the Dike Bridge in Edgartown that requires either a 3.5 mile hike, or with a proper permit, it is also 4-wheel drive accessible. The road may be closed at times, however, due to erosion and flooding. Most visitors access the island by use of the small “On Time” ferry, also out of Edgartown. To make tour reservations, call 508.627.3599.


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Roosevelt Room, B
Cape Cod’s Roosevelt Room, B

While all of the bedchambers at the Palmer House have their own romantic charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of  Cape Cod adventures, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs for a relaxing stay before and after your day.


Mary Moran is a Falmouth native and knowledgable about Cape Cod. In addition to writing for the Palmer House Inn, she’s also frequently at the inn and available  to answer quest’s questions. She enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time exploring Falmouth’s coastal waterways.

June’s Guest Reviews

6.1 Dear Bill and Pat, Thank you so much for a wonderful surprise for my husband. Our 12th anniversary was spent here an you went above and beyond to make our stay romantic and comfortable. We will be back! Thanks so much,
Erin and Tom

6.5 Thank you for a lovely, very special stay at your beautiful inn. The welcome, preparation of rooms, and warm reception were memorable. Thank you! – Leila

6.5 Once again, a lovely stay enjoying such splendid hospitality. “Palmer House” ranks “1st class” without any competition! Bill and Pat will always hold the winning ticket. So, after this – our 3rd visit, we shall now look forward to our fourth. – Dawn and Richard

6.7 There is ho better place to spend a birthday than at the Palmer House Inn. My wife and I have been coming here every year, going on year six. Always relaxing and always a pleasure! See you later this year and into next! – Robert and Lisa-Anne

6.9 Dear Pat and Bill, once again we are back to celebrate our 47th wedding anniversary. We look forward to this trip every year. It is our perfect getaway, even with the chilly weather it was perfect. Thank you for your gracious hospitality. Everything was perfect and the food was delicious. Hope to see you again next year. Have a great summer. Stay well. God’s blessings. – Pat and Paul

6.13 Thank you Bill and Pat for our wonderful stay here in your beautiful inn. Great to get away from it all, we had a very relaxing time! Many thanks, Audrey and Derek

6.14 Hi Pat and Bill, What a beautiful home you have created here. The room was so comfortable, the sheets so soft. We enjoyed the baked French toast with apricots, and the coffee was very good. We wish you both continued success. We now have the perfect getaway spot in Falmouth. – Susan and John

6.15 Bill and Pat, Thanks so much for your warm hospitality and making our wedding weekend so special! Every aspect of your bed and breakfast was wonderful. We really enjoyed our time in Falmouth and Martha’s Vineyard as well. Too bad the weather could not last for our ceremony on Monday, but mother nature cannot be controlled. Thanks again and looking forward to our next stay in the future! – Rob and Cara

6.20 Dear Pat and Bill, Serendipity! I have so enjoyed my stay at the Palmer Inn. You, and your lovely staff have looked after me so well. The food was “out of this world” and the room was so comfortable. Thank you all. I hope to return again next year. – Jan

6.20 Bill and Pat, Thank you so much for another great stay at your inn. Everything was perfect – as always! See you next year! – Bob and Peg

6.19 What a wonderful spot! Loved my room – all the special touches – perfect. I will be back this time next year! – Karen

6.7 Dear Bill and Pat, my husband surprised me with this weekend getaway for my 50th birthday. Such a gift to have someplace so special, so close to home. We parked our car when we arrived and never had to get into it again until we left. We walked and took our bikes everywhere. Every tidbit of breakfast was amazing, and not to mention the goodies in the afternoon and the most delicious lemonade I’ve ever had the pleasure to taste. After this weekend, I feel 50 years young! Thank you. – Mary and Kevin

6.24 Thanks Bill and Pat, the last few days were outstanding. – Brian and Bette

6.14 Dear Bill and Pat, Thank you for another wonderful night at your inn. We so enjoyed your breakfast and bike use. Special memories! Thanks again. See you next year! – JoAnn and Dick

6.15 Thank you for letting us enjoy your lovely “Palmer House Inn.” It exceeded our expectations and we had a great time. – David and Caroline

6.19 Had such a good time at this charming B&B that we already made reservations for next year. Thank you for all the personal touches. – Sue

6.21 Dear Pat and Bill, There’s an expression “Can’t wait ’til next year” and this is always the feeling when it comes time to go back home after another tremendous stay here with both of you. For Elsy and I, our stay up here on the Cape starts and finishes only at the Palmer House. Again, thank you as always, stay well, and we always look forward to next summer here at your place. Thanks again, Elsy and Steve

6.27 Dear Pat and Bill, Thank you for pampering us during our anniversary stay at your lovely inn. Comfy bed! – I’m buying some linens to take home! And wonderful food – thanks for the pancake recipe! We hadn’t stayed in Falmouth during previous stops on Cape Cod. We were delighted with all it had to offer. It will certainly be our “home base” during the next visit. Sincerely, Joan and Peter

6.28 Came to the Cape to celebrate our nephew’s wedding and an extended weekend to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. The location was perfect. We explored, relaxed, ate (too much), and enjoyed the comforts of the inn. Thank you! And thank you for the champagne and chocolates. They were a very nice surprise. We had a memorable and romantic anniversary thanks to you. – Jeff and Kristen

October 2015 Guest Reviews

10.9 Dear Bill and Pat, we enjoyed our stay and the wonderful breakfast. We loved the charm of your B&B. We decided to head to the Cape on a whim and we certainly chose the right place. Thank you for your hospitality. We will recommend it to our friends and family! – Jerilyn and Jonathan

10.7 This was the most comfortable place we have every stayed. Everything was so homey and clean. We were able to relax and enjoy. -Jim and Diane

10.6 Pat and Bill, Thank you very much for a nice stay at your beautiful inn. And thanks for the breakfast – delicious! The blueberry pancakes today were a great pleasure. We hope to come back some day. -Annette and Peer

10.5 Pat, Bill, and all Palmer House staff, Thank you so much for your hospitality and comforts during our three-night stay in your beautiful home. We came to celebrate Kate’s birthday early and have thoroughly enjoyed every moment. Sadly the weather wasn’t too kind but we hope to return some day and maybe get to see some Cape Cod sunshine next time! A special mention to your great kitchen team and breakfast room servers, they do a great job! – Ian and Kate

10.3 Bill and Pat, we have been visiting the Cape since we were little, but neither of us spent much time in Falmouth. We were here over the weekend for a wedding and are so happy we could experience staying here- the service, food, and attention to detail were all wonderful. We enjoyed our time here and will be back for sure. Thank you for making our trip so great! – Jeff and Andrea

10.4 Dear Pat and Bill, the thoughts that come to mind are not adequate to describe our stay at your beautiful inn. 5 star, royal, excellent, and beyond expectations. You and your staff made everything so special and grand. Thanks so much. – Bob and Pat

10.12 Dear Bill and Pat, well that’s it as  another holiday draws to a close after three weeks and almost 1600 miles as we prepare to take the last day of our trip back to Boston Airport and our flight home later today to the UK. It has been a great holiday. We have been to some wonderful places, seen many wonderful sights, and stayed in amazing accommodations, and throughout have received nothing but warm and friendly hospitality. The weather has been out of this world, the downside being a late start to “the Fall,” but we have been more than compensated to the lack of color in many other ways. We have been lucky to have ended our stay here at the Palmer House Inn. Everything about the “inn” highlights the quality of service and the accommodation we have experienced throughout New England. All the staff are friendly, wonderful people who can’t do enough for you, but all the time remaining highly professional. Everyone here has made our stay one we will remember for a long time. If we do come back to this wonderful part of the USA, then Palmer House Inn will be high on our list for a return visit. Best wishes to everyone. – Peter and Jeannette

10.12 We spent four great nights at the inn. Breakfasts were not what we expected – they were more than sufficient to set us up for days of exploring. Staff members and proprietors were welcoming and cheerful at all times making the whole experience a pleasure and a privilege. Falmouth is a perfect place for exploring locally and for the Cape over-all. This was supposed to be R&R but there is so much to see and do! Wonderful! – Pete and Liz

10.12 Dear Bill and Pat, we truly enjoyed our stay here! It was wonderful; your hospitality, kindness, etc. was impeccable. We will definitely be back. Thank you!!! – Jeanne and John. P.S. We have three kids in college and have not been able to travel much, this was wonderful!

10.9 Dear Pat, Bill, and girls, you have made us feel so welcome and comfortable in your beautiful home, a perfect end to our two week “road trip” of New England. Thank you very much. All the nice little extra touches were perfect. Best wishes- Carol and Nigel

10.8 Lovely place, lovely service, delightful experience. Thank you to Pat, Rosy, and all other staff members who helped create this lovely stay. – Helen and Prem

10.13 We just completed a 15 day vacation throughout New England, Nova Scotia, Niagara Falls, and finally Cape Cod. During that time we stayed in five B&B’s. 81 Palmer was the best of all – location, staff, food, assistance, and “attention to detail.” Could not have asked for a better way to complete our trip. Thank you for a memorable stay. – Gerry and Libby

10.11 45th wedding anniversary. An excellent base from which to explore Cape Cod. – Moya and Mike

10.16 First time at Palmer House Inn and will not be the last! We all enjoyed the charm that Bill and Pat have put throughout this lovely home! Thank you all, and Mary, and the kitchen staff, and the lovely woman who cleaned my room and did my laundry. Thanks to everyone for making our stay special!! The very best to you all. – Joan, Paul, Patti, and Joe

10.10 We had a beautiful stay at your beautiful home. We would encourage anyone who wanted a restful, welcoming place to stay – come to the Palmer House. Thank you for everything. – Joe and Marie

10.18 We had a lovely stay here. Breakfast was delicious and all the staff were friendly and helpful. – Ralph. It was simply delightful to spend my birthday here. Thanks to my husband for the thoughtful gift and thank you all for taking such lovely care of us. – Sharon

10.8 Dear Pat and Bill, Thank you for a very pleasant and comfortable stay. We are from Malaysia and we have loved Cape Cod and Falmouth, as well as Martha’s Vineyard. Such a lovely part of the U.S. and would love to come back. If we do, we would certainly make Palmer House our first choice to stay. Best wishes. – Amy and Ai

10.11 Bill and Pat, Thank you for a wonderful place to stay, so relaxing. A great place to spend an anniversary weekend. We will be back. Best wishes, Jerry and Siobhan.

10.22 Thank you so much for a truly lovely stay. The staff was amazing, the food was delightful. You are doing a wonderful job! – Rob and Jessica

10.26 Another year coming back to this charming B&B. It always feels like coming home to a dear friend of ours. Will it be a sixth time next year? – Ann-marie and Kjell

10.23 This was truly a lovely experience! There is so much to say, it wouldn’t all fit on this page! You’re the best! – Rob and Elaine

10.24 Thank you so much for being our base for the Cape Cod Half Marathon. We love Falmouth and the Palmer House! – Kellie and Todd

10.24 My husband and I have enjoyed our three nights at the inn. The fall colors are gorgeous! We rented bikes at the corner shop for two days. First, we rode to Woods Hole, about 3.5 miles. It’s a quaint and interesting town. On the second day, we rode to the cranberry bogs, around 5 miles. Beautiful woods, homes, ponds, marshes. You don’t NEED to go all the way to the bogs. We had a lovely meal at the Glass Onion. It’s within walking distance. Highly recommended. Lovely inn. – Dave and Lisa