The Transylvania Times -

Lighthouse Shows The Way In The Mountains - Brevard NC


Last updated 5/29/2020 at 9:57am

The Clarkes' lighthouse stands stands at the intersection of Williamson Creek Road and Covered Bridge Lane. The lighthouse was designed by Clarke and built by Bryan Clanton. The surrounding garden was designed by landscape architect Scott Carpenter.

Last December I began working as a construction assistant on a project on Williamson Creek that would turn out to be a beacon of light for the community during dark times.

After several months of construction and landscaping, the Clarke Lighthouse now serves as a source of illumination and inspiration for the Williamson Creek community and locals of Brevard and Pisgah Forest.

Constructed by builder Bryan Clanton of Home Design Specialists of Western North Carolina (, with assistance from Daniel Gardner and myself, the Clarke lighthouse is owned and operated by Colonel William D. Clarke III (USAF, ret.) and Marianna Clarke. Scott Carpenter was the landscape architect on the project.

It took around four months of work to clear land, build and beautify the newly-made lighthouse, which, even though scaled down, stands over 20 feet tall. Now resting atop a knoll of elegant flora, the dazzling white stucco leads up to the light room, which features a handmade Fresnel lens and looks out over Williamson Creek.

The lighthouse bears a plaque stating, "Jesus Christ, the Light of the World," reminding us all to have faith in our various beliefs that give us hope and foundation in these troubling times of the coronavirus.

The idea originated with designs for a lighthouse that Col. Clarke had drawn up back in 2003, while still living on a lake in Florida.

"I never got around to having it built until now, 17 years later," he said.

Historically, lighthouses in America were simply maintained by individuals, who were paid by the companies and organizations that owned the lighthouses. However, in the early 20th century the U.S. Coast Guard took over maintenance of lighthouses.

"Since then lighthouses have been manned by people in uniform, so I find it only fitting that a man in uniform keeps this one," said Clarke.

Lighthouse keepers Marianna and Col. William D. Clarke III (USAF, retired).

After first clearing the trees from the knoll, grading and flattening out the top, and setting up the work site, the lighthouse began with a level concrete base. The next major step was literally piecework, target-sawing concrete blocks that were angled to create a ring. We cut up hundreds of concrete blocks from pallets, using scaffolding to stack them, block by block, into a hollow shaft. Once this tower and mortar was erect and hardened, we put rings on the shaft and capped off the top with the "lamp room," where Clanton installed a Fresnel lens that rotates and shines a light on the world around it.

After additional cleaning and landscape work, the brilliant white lighthouse and beautiful garden are a beacon for locals to find inspiration and appreciation for the little things in life and for the dreams that we create and challenge ourselves to pursue.

So, come see the lighthouse on the corner of Williamson Creek Road and Covered Bridge Lane!


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