The Key West Lighthouse was built in 1847 to replace the original wooden tower on Whitehead Point destroyed the previous year by a hurricane. The present location, 14-feet above sea level, was chosen to protect the new tower from a similiar fate. This tower was constructed of brick and was 66-feet high with a fixed white light. In 1894 twenty feet were added to bring it to its present height. The three red sector panels were the code signifying dangerous approaches to the harbor.
The Lighthouse was decommissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1969. The tower was restored for $265,000 in 1989, re-opening in February. Its 175-watt metal halide light, which works on a photo electric cell, lights up as the daylight diminishes, and can be seen several miles out to sea.
The Light Keeper's Quarters were built in 1887 and houses the museum's collection of lighthouse artifacts and the maritime history of the Keys. The word Key comes from the Spanish CAYO; the original name for Key West was Cayo Hueso, or Bone Inlet.
Visitors may climb the 88 steps to the balcony and a spectacular view of the island and surrounding waters. There are ten additional steps to the actual light.
(This information from a pamphlet received at the Key West
Visit the Key West Lighthouse website
The oil house now serves as the Gift Shop.
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