The Hereford Inlet Lighthouse and gardens, which rests on the southwest shore of the Hereford Inlet in North Wildwood, NJ, are a must see attraction for visitors. Designed by Paul J. Pelz, the structure takes on a wood frame residential style consistent with Victorian era design. Today the Lighthouse also hosts a museum open to the public for tours. The guided tours inform visitors about the history of the Lighthouse, including the experiences of early lighthouse keepers.
The Lighthouse was completed in 1874 to help guide vessels through the Hereford Inlet, connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Intercoastal Waterway. The Lighthouse was initially controlled by the Department of the Treasury, and subsequently an operation of the US Coast Guard. In 1964 an automatic light was placed on a rear iron tower, resulting in the closure of the Lighthouse and the neighboring Coast Guard Station. Following an 18 year span of inactivity, the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse and the surrounding grounds were leased to the city of North Wildwood through the efforts Mayor Anthony Catanoso and his wife Phyllis.
Since the city took control of the Lighthouse, local citizens of North Wildwood have helped restore the deteriorated property. In 1986 the automated light was removed from the iron rear tower and placed in the Lighthouse lantern room, allowing the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse to resume its initial function. In addition, a museum was created within the Lighthouse where tourists can enjoy historic artifacts. A separate project transformed the surrounding bare grounds into a park. Steve Murray, the Superintendent of Parks, designed the park with a "cottage" style, resembling the unplanned, rustic appearance of the peasant gardens of early England. The Hereford Inlet Lighthouse is listed on both the state and national Registry of Historic Places, and the grounds are a part of the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail.