Have you ever wanted to experience what it was like to be a lighthouse keeper, but without all the lighthouse maintenance work, or the isolation-induced madness? And do you love hanging out with the people who work at your place of lodging? Then East Brother Island has just the bed and breakfast for you.
The lighthouse on East Brother Island was originally built in 1874 to provide a beacon for ships traveling between San Francisco Bay and San Pablo Bay via San Pablo Strait. The strong local currents, frequent fog, and bottleneck nature of the strait made the area an important one to mark. Since a location on the mainland proved impossible to secure, the U.S. government chose this small island just off Point San Pablo for the location of the light station.
At the time it was built, the operation and maintenance of lighthouses were still performed manually. Somebody had to change, trim, and light the wick, top up the lamp’s whale oil reservoir, and stoke the coal-fired boilers that were used to sound the foghorn. As such, the facility on East Brother Island included a keeper’s house to provide living quarters for this dedicated servant of commerce and technology.
When the East Brother Island Lighthouse was automated in 1969, the keeper’s house was no longer needed. The government wanted to knock the house down, but a group of concerned local residents intervened to save it. After letting it stand empty and neglected for a decade (so maybe they weren’t that concerned?), the locals formed a nonprofit in 1979 to restore the Victorian building, which was reopened as a bed and breakfast in 1980.
Today, the inn is open for dinner, bed and breakfast every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Day trips can also be made to the island, but only on Saturdays during the summer. A visit to East Brother Island provides one-of-a-kind views of San Francisco Bay, but please note that candles and fireworks are strictly prohibited, so don’t get any ideas involving either of those things. Oh, and if you stay only one night, you’re not allowed to take a shower because fresh water supply is limited. Also important to know.