Stage Harbor Light

Stage Harbor Lighthouse, also known as Harding’s Beach Lighthouse, was built in 1880, making it the youngest lighthouse on Cape Cod. It was built as a complement to Chatham Light. Stage Harbor got its name because the waterway functioned as a staging area for vessels waiting to round Monomoy Point, and Stage Harbor Light helped mark the waterway during times of low visibility.

Despite its short history as a manned lighthouse, the Stage Harbor Light had several exceptional keepers, many receiving commendations for heroism. One such man was the lighthouse’s final keeper, Stanley Gunderson, who was credited with several rescues (and who, it was later discovered, also supplemented his income by bootlegging).

The lighthouse was deactivated in 1933 when a new automated tower was installed nearby, and Stage Harbor Light and the surrounding land was sold to an army officer. A few years later it was sold again, to Henry Sears Hoyt, an ancestor of Chatham’s founder William Nickerson, and it has remained in the Hoyt family ever since.


The lighthouse is still privately owned, and is only open to the public on occasion, but it can be viewed from several locations:

  • From Harding’s Beach: From the second parking lot, there’s a mile-long path that will bring you closer to the lighthouse. Please remember that the ground and tower are private property. Do not trespass.
  • From other side of Stage Harbor:
    • Towards the end of Stage Neck Road
    • At the end of Sears Road
  • From the water: Harding’s Beach is a great place from which to launch a sailboat, kayak, or paddleboard. Don’t have your own? There are numerous boat rental companies in the Chatham area.