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New keeper chosen for Sheffield Island light

Donald Burr, a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, has accepted the position of Lighthouse Keeper for Sheffield Island Lighthouse, built in 1868 at the entrance to Norwalk Harbor.

The local educator was selected by the Norwalk Seaport Association earlier this spring to fill the seasonal position. In the position Burr will be Connecticut’s only full-time lighthouse keeper on Long Island Sound.

The avid photographer goes to the island with a background in education, youth ministry and recreational leadership. In the late 1990s Burr was a chaplain intern at Norwalk Hospital. The Norwalk native now works as a compensatory skills assistant for children with visual impairments.

While spending much of their summer on the island, Burr and his family will live in the original lighthouse keeper’s cottage, built in 1827. The stone structure has no regular sources of running water or electricity.

“The austere conditions, very much like the traditional ‘lighthouse life,’ will be a welcome challenge,” Burr said, explaining that camping and lighthouse exploration throughout New England is a favorite vacation option for he and his wife, Beth, and their four children, ages 16 to 11.

The Norwalk Seaport Association owns Sheffield Island Light and offers ferry service to the island as well as tours of the beacon, and the nature trail. The G.W. Tyler leaves the Hope Dock at the Maritime Aquarium several times daily.