In the early 1600s Capt. John Smith arrived in Camden harbor. With him on the voyage was a black cook who allowed that if he could have any place in the world, the small island would be the place. Capt. Smith then awarded the cook ownership, whereupon the island became "Negro Island". More than 200 years later, the first brick lighthouse on the five-acre island at the entrance to Camden Harbor was built in 1835 by order of President Andrew Jackson.
Marking the south side of the harbor entrance, the initial tower was replaced with the present 25-foot brick tower in 1896. The keeper's house had been rebuilt in 1889 and a boathouse added. A fourth-order Fresnel lens also was installed.
The island's name was changed in 1934 to Curtis Island in memory of Cyrus H.K. Curtis, Publisher of the Saturday Evening Post and longtime summer resident and benefactor of Camden. In 1972 the light was automated and the Fresnel lens removed; the town of Camden acquired the property surrounding the lighthouse the following year. Although there are several locations along the shore offering distant views of this light, it is best seen and photographed by boat or air. Any of the sightseeing or windjammer cruises departing from of the lighthouse and afford excellent views.
U.S. Route 1 to Camden. Turn onto Bayview Street, then left to the town Warf. Arrangements may be made to go to Curtis Island for the day or for a few hours to enjoy the park. The light also may be seen well in winter through the trees further up Bayview Street; the drives are private property and there is no access to the shorefront.