The current St. Augustine Lighthouse was first lit on October 15, 1874.  Construction had begun in 1871, using plans designed by Paul J. Pelz, who also designed the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.  In fact, his plans for the lighthouse were used at Bodie Island and Currituck Beach in North Carolina.

Atop the 165-foot tall lighthouse, sits an original 9-foot tall First Order Fresnel Lens.  Originally the light had a 3-minute fixed flash as its characteristic.  In 1936, it was changed to a 30-second flash.

Station Established: 1821
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1874
Operational? YES
Automated? YES 1955
Foundation Materials: BRICK ON COQUINA
Construction Materials: BRICK
Tower Height: 52 feet (1st); 165 feet (2nd)
Relationship to Other Structure: ATTACHED
Characteristics: 3 minute fixed flash; in 1936 changed to 30-second flash
Original Lens: First Order Fresnel, 1874

Historical Information:

  • 1824:  An old Spanish watchtower became the first lighthouse in Florida. Lamps from Winslow Lewis were used.
  • 1855:  A fourth order Fresnel lens replaced the old lamps.
  • 1867:  The first lighthouse was relit after the Civil War. During the war Confederate supporters removed the Fresnel lens from the light and hid it.
  • 1871:  Construction of a new lighthouse was started.
  • 1874, 14 October:  The old lighthouse was lit for the last time.
  • 1874, 15 October:  The new lighthouse was lit for the first time.  A first order Fresnel lens with a 3 minute fixed flash was used. Lard oil was used as the fuel to light the lighthouse.
  • 1876:  The keepers moved to the new station.
  • 1878:  The old lighthouse crashed into the sea.
  • 1885:  Kerosene replaced lard oil to light the lighthouse.  A new oil house was built to store the kerosene.
  • 1907:  Indoor plumbing was added to the site.
  • 1925:  Electric lights were installed in the keeper's quarters.
  • 1936:  The light was electrified.  The new characteristic became a 30 second flash.
  • 1955:  The lighthouse was automated and the last keeper retired.
  • 1960:  The keeper's house was declared surplus property and was put up for sale.  The quarters were boarded up and left neglected.
  • 1970:  While negotiations were in progress, the house fell victim to arson. St. John's County purchased the property for $29,000.
  • 1981:  The lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • 1982:  The Junior Service League signed a 99 year lease with the county for the keeper's house and surrounding grounds, and a 30 year lease with the Coast Guard to begin a massive restoration effort.
  • 2000, October:  The new visitors center was opened.
  • 2002:  The lighthouse is an official, privately-owned, active aid to navigation. The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, a not-for-profit organization, owns and maintains the light station.

St. Augustine Light, built 1871

View of the Acorns.  Acorns were attached to the support brackets, under the watch
gallery deck, that held the gallery deck railings in place.

Close up view of an Acorn.

Oil can, used to dispense the fuel into buckets, which the
keeper's would then bring up to the lighting apparatus.

Deck Prisms allow daylight, and light from the lamp, to be drawn into
the watchroom, providing light to the keepers.

Looking down the spiral stairs.

Looking up the spiral stairs.  There are 219 steps to the observation deck.

View of the Fresnel Lens, from the Gallery Deck

View of the Fresnel Lens, from the Gallery Deck

View of the Fresnel Lens, from the Gallery Deck

View of the Keepers House.  The buildings on the left & right, were the
kitchen for both the Keeper and the Assistant Keeper.

A view of the Keeper's House, from the base of the lighthouse tower. 
The room in the photo would have served as the Keeper's Office.

Looking down at the Keeper's House from the Gallery Deck.

Looking inside the Fresnel Lens,  with the Deck Prisms reflected.

A display, on a landing inside the tower, showing the
damage to the Fresnel Lens, caused by someone shooting at it.

View of the Keeper's Quarters from inside the tower.

From the Gallery Deck, What a view!

This two person wrench was used to loosen the acorns during the restoration. 

Visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum Website

Return to the Florida State Page

Visit the Florida Lighthouse Page

flp.jpg (4953 bytes)

Return to the: Alphabetical Listing or the Listing by States

banner5.jpg (12941 bytes)