The site had been used as a light station since 1808, but this lighthouse, along with a sister light, was originally built in 1877. Both were built of brick, lined with cast iron and had a cottage for the light keeper. It was known as Twin Lights until 1923, when the sister light was moved and became Nauset Lighthouse.
Chatham Lighthouse remains in service, and the site is now an active United States Coast Guard Small Boat Station. The vessel displayed outside the station is CG 44301, which was the first 44′ motor lifeboat purchased by USCG commissioned in Chatham in 1963. It was also the last to go out of service in 2009.