The Marblehead Recreation and Parks Commission has received a grant of $33,000 from the Shattuck Fund to restore the Oil House and various walkways at the Lighthouse. They have engaged Peter Rice to do the restoration.
According to the Inspection report of the 2nd District, Department of Commerce of February 12, 1910, who were in charge of all lighthouses at the time, the Marblehead Oil House was built in 1907. It was built of brick at a location 189” southwest of the Tower. The inside dimensions were 8’ – 8” x 10’ – 8”, and it was designed to hold about 450 gallons of oil in 5-gallon cans.
Why oil houses? The Department of Commerce, after seeing multiple lighthouses burn down or blow up, decided it was time to store the flammables elsewhere rather than in the lighthouse. It was common to store the whale oil, kerosene, gas, and hard lard (for back up if everything else fails) in the light itself. So after the turn of the century you will see oil houses at almost all lighthouses.