Terrific question! And all of these are very good points which probably contribute to the why's of making the stairwells as they did. Old Point Comfort has solid stairs. That one seemed particularly confining. Although it does have some windows, it was darker than most. (By the way, I had beautiful blooms from the daylilies last year.
) On that same trip, we saw Old Cape Henry. I believe that one also had stone and/or brick stairs. AND it also seemed more dark and dank despite the windows. The ole memory keeps slipping away, but, if it's not failing right now, it seems that some of those towers that have solid stairs also don't have banisters to hold on to! I am terribly afraid of heights but do okay where there is something to hold onto.
On another note, Ocracoke is not particularly high (and we didn't get to climb it), but I did not like that the stairwell was in the middle of the tower - with my fears, that makes me worry about stability - although I'm sure that it is very secure.
It also has those see-through stairs and no wall to hug!
Buoyhunter, the Wackos take a lot of great trips; you should plan on joining the group the next time a trip comes up. You get to see a lot of lights and share in the wealth of information that many of the members here have accumulated throughout the years. I've learned a whole lot from them!