Waterfront access and an attractive picnic area along with a restored lightkeeper’s cottage that can be toured or rented.
Browns Point Lighthouse Park (4.03 acres) lies on the tip of historic Browns Point, and provides waterfront access for the community. A large green space makes this a nice spot for a picnic as you watch the deep-sea ships entering Tacoma’s busy port.
Point Northeast Historical Society
The Browns Point Light House Park “Adopt a Park” partnership between Points Northeast Historical Society and Metro Parks was established in October 2000.
You can take a step back in time as you tour the History Center, Boathouse, replica surfboat, original fog bell and the Light Keeper’s Cottage.
- Open Saturdays between 1 and 4 pm from May to October.
- Free admission
- Contact Points Northeast Historical Society, (253) 927-2536.
Experience even more of the life of a lighthouse keeper by signing up for a one-week tour of duty and staying in the Light Keeper’s Cottage. Keepers learn local history and conduct tours of the lighthouse grounds and facilities. Relax and watch sailboats, walk on the beach, fish from the shore, enjoy sunsets and reading in antique rocking chairs from the porch. Contact Points Northeast Historical Society, (253) 927-2536.
Metro Parks Tacoma does not have an ownership position in the two lots to the south of the Lighthouse property that the Brown’s Point Improvement Club is on. The Browns Point Improvement Club only allows their parking lots to be used for BPIC events.
Charts have been found that show an 1840s expedition named today’s Browns Point as Point Harris after a sailmaker’s mate, Alvin Harris. It is not certain whether the point was later re-named after a member of the 1846 British expedition or the 1877 U.S. expedition. Browns Point was known as Point Brown until about the 1920s.
On December 12, 1887, two years before Washington became a state, a fixed white light lens lantern was placed on a white post on Point Brown. It was about twelve feet above sea level and 50 yards from the low water end of shore. In 1901 the first lighthouse and a house for the lighthouse keeper were built. The lighthouse was a wood frame structure on wood pilings off shore. At low tide one could walk to the lighthouse, but at high tide it was necessary to take a rowboat.
The first white residents of Browns Point were the lighthouse keeper, Oscar Brown, and his wife, Annie. They arrived by government boat in October 1903. The rowboat used by Oscar and his crew of two or three men no longer exists. A replica constructed in 1994 by boat builder Mar Vlahovich is housed in the original boathouse located next door to the lighthouse keeper’s house.
For the next 30 years Oscar Brown tended the light and battery-operated bell. Every evening at exactly sundown Brown would light the lamp in the attic. Each morning at sunrise he put it out. When the bell rang all night long due to fog, he had to rewind the mechanism every 45 minutes. When the bell would not function properly during a fog, he and Annie manned the lighthouse – he with a sledgehammer and she with a timer. She monitored the timed intervals as he struck the bell.
The area became a public park in 1964 when the station closed and an agreement to convert the site to a public park was reached with the Federal Government. Browns Point Lighthouse Park lies on the tip of historic Browns Point. The Park provides the community waterfront access, enticing beachcombers year round and sunbathers and picnickers during the summer. A large green space makes this a nice spot for a picnic as you watch the deep-sea ships entering the Port of Tacoma.
Metro Parks Tacoma completed a project in August 2018 that included a new paved parking lot and promenade built to Americans with Disabilities Act standards, plus new landscaping, picnic tables, benches and trash receptacles.
The project added a dozen paved parking stalls to replace what had been a steep gravel lot – and a lot more:
- A new promenade built to Americans with Disabilities Act standards
- A concrete path connecting the lot and promenade
- Picnic tables
- Trash receptacles
- And an ornamental fence around the U.S. Coast Guard lighthouse, replacing the old chain link fencing.
All in all, the upgrades give visitors safe, all-season access down to the beach.