About This Place
Piney Point (also known simply as "The Point") is an unincorporated community in St. Mary's County, Maryland, United States. It is known for the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education, a popular seafood restaurant, beautiful houses along the beach, a lighthouse, and a "Museum." The Piney Point post office also serves St. George Island, which is connected to it by a short bridge.
The scenic environment of Piney Point was the summer getaway of many Washington D.C. notables from the years 1820 to 1910. Named after the long leaf yellow and loblolly pines lining the shores of the Potomac, the Point provided a nature retreat to Presidents James Monroe, Franklin Pierce and Teddy Roosevelt. A number of other Capital luminaries such as Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun and Daniel Webster were frequent visitors to the Piney Point Hotel, which was unfortunately shut down after a hurricane in 1933.
Located fourteen miles up the Potomac River from the Chesapeake Bay, Piney Point Lighthouse is situated on the Maryland shore of the river. A lightship had been stationed in the area since 1821, to mark shoal hazards at Piney Point and on the opposite shore at Ragged Point. In 1835, Congress set aside $5,000 for construction of a land-based beacon to replace the lightship. The contract was awarded to the prolific lighthouse builder John Donahoo. Piney Point Lighthouse was the tenth of twelve he would complete in his lifetime. The tower was the first of eleven lighthouses to be built along the river, and it is one of only three that remain standing today (the other two being Jones Point and Fort Washington). In addition to the tower, Donahoo built a one-story keeper’s dwelling topped by an A-line roof. The small 20 x 30 foot house contained a dining room, parlor, fireplace and cellar, and was given a 10 x 12 foot kitchen later on. In 1884 a second story was added to the structure, greatly improving the keeper’s comfort level.