The "Gasparilla Island Lighthouse" was built by the United States Lighthouse Service in 1890 to assist vessels entering and leaving Charlotte Harbor through Boca Grande Pass. It is the oldest building on Gasparilla Island, was built in 1890, and was first lit on December 31, 1890. It is a two-story frame dwelling, built on iron screw-piles, with the lens housed by a cupola atop the roof. While operational, it housed the lighthouse keeper. Today it is a museum.
The Assistant Lightkeeper's House next door was built at the same time, and in the same style. Also built were four cisterns for water, and two privies. The light was decommissioned in 1966. Buildings and grounds quickly deteriorated, to the point that waves were breaking under the buildings. The beach was built up by building rock groins and pumping in sand, thus protecting the buildings from further ruin. Restoration work began in 1985.
The Lighthouse (left) and Assistant Keeper's House (right)
THE LIGHTHOUSE TODAY
Restoration was completed in 1986 at a cost of $84,670. The Florida Department of State contributed $21,500, the Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Association contributed $42, 170, and $20,000 came from private donations. A "barrel" lens is installed, and in a special ceremony, the Boca Grande Lighthouse is officially re-commissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard on Nov. 21, 1986. The U.S. Coast Guard maintains the automated light, which continues to mark the southern tip of Gasparilla Island as it has done since 1890.
A fifth-order drum lens housed in the cupola, where once a 3-1/2 order clam-shaped Fresnel-lens sat.
In 1988 the lighthouse and surrounding acreage is transferred from Lee County to the State of Florida, and the site becomes the centerpiece of Gasparilla Island State Recreation Area. Park rangers set up offices in the lighthouse. This same year, Florida Power and Light, using sand from the dredging of the ship's channel, builds an extensive dune system on the west side of the lighthouse and constructs dune walkovers for beach goers.
In 1998 park rangers move their offices into the assistant keeper's building, which had been renovated through a grant from the Florida Department of State. The Barrier Island Park Service (BIPS), with monies raised from local citizens, the Venice Foundation, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Boca Grande Fishing Guides Association, CSX Transportation and the Boca Grande Woman's Club, installs a museum of local history in the historic building. The museum opened in March of 1999.
|- Built in 1890|
|- 3-1/2 order Fresnel lens (original), 5th order drum lens (current)|
|- 44' focal plane|
|- Visible for 12 miles|
|- Automated in 1950|
|- Deactivated in 1966|
|- Lighthouse restored by local organizations and citizens|
|- Reactivated in 1986|
|- Barrier Island Parks Society, a 501(c)3 nonprofit was formed in 1989 to create a community museum inside the lighthouse|
|-Museum opened in 1999|
|- Museum is managed and operated by Barrier Island Parks Society. The active light is maintained by the USCG|
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