In 1954, the light was automated and the living quarters were vacated. The unoccupied building deteriorated rapidly. Eventually, the Coast Guard relocated the light from the tower to a post on the outer island and planned to demolish the building. A campaign mounted by local residents halted the demolition. In 1979, the lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1985, the Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy formed as a non-profit organization for the purpose of rescuing the dilapidated lighthouse. The Coast Guard relinquished jurisdiction and the property reverted to New York State. In 1986, the state legislature passed a bill selling the Lighthouse to the Conservancy for $1. Efforts to stabilize the building began shortly thereafter while local architect Alex Wade completed plans for the reconstruction. A wooden barge was built to haul construction materials including tons of masonry materials. An elaborate scaffolding and shoring system was created to hold up the sagging tower, floors and roof so that new brick walls could be constructed. More than 10,000 new bricks were required to replace ones that had crumbled. The entire masonry structure, including the massive stone base, has been repointed. The lantern that houses the light was removed from the building and completely restored to its original condition. Local craftsman completed the building with woodwork, plastering, and painting. After 4 years of extensive structural renovations, the tower light was restored to operation on August 4, 1990. The Coast Guard installed a fresnel lens with solar-powered light. The cypress picket fence around the Lighthouse was replaced. On it are the names of the many Keepers who lived and worked here and hundreds of donors who contributed towards the magnificent restoration.



In addition to membership contributions and fundraising activities, the renovation of the lighthouse was supported by the following generous donors:

Village of Saugerties
Town of Saugerties
The Kapplan Fund
Saugerties Art Council
Heritage Task Force
Scenic Hudson
NYS Department of State
Ulster Arts Council
Hudson River Foundation
Jackson Hole Preserve, Inc.
Environmental Quality Bond Act
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Hudson River Valley Greenway