Portland, which was known as Falmouth until 1786, was America’s sixth busiest port by the 1790s.There were no lighthouses on the coast of Maine when 74 merchants petitioned the Massachusetts government (Maine was part of Massachusetts at the time) in 1784 for a light at Portland Head, on the northeast coast of Cape Elizabeth, to mark the entrance to Portland Harbor.Bryant resigned over the change, and Nichols finished the lighthouse in January 1791.President George Washington approved the appointment of Capt.At first, Greenleaf received no salary as keeper; his payment was the right to fish and farm and to live in the keeper’s house.
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The stone lighthouse was built by local masons Jonathan Bryant and John Nichols.
The original plan was for a 58-foot tower, but when it was realized that the light would be blocked from the south it was decided to make the tower 72 feet in height instead.
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