I love happy endings, and this lighthouse that is standing tall in St. Augustine, Florida, certainly has one.
When the St. Augustine Lighthouse was built in 1874, it was one of the tallest lighthouses in the country at 165 feet tall. Standing on a foundation of coquina rock, it is constructed of granite, cast iron, brick, and bronze.
As with most lighthouses, there was a keeper living on the property at one time. The last keeper resigned in 1955, and the lighthouse deteriorated over the next 15 years. Sadly, in 1970, a suspicious fire gutted this majestic structure.
Fortunately, that was not the end of the story. A group of women in the Junior Service League of St. Augustine, Florida, prevented a bulldozer from destroying the landmark in 1980. A small group of these women signed a 99-year lease with St. John’s County and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next nine years.
The Lighthouse provides a wonderful educational opportunity. We learned about the Fresnel lens and how the signature lighthouse beam of light is created, as well as how heavy the fuel bucket was at the beginning and again on one of the landings as we climbed the 219 stairs. Can you imagine carrying that hot oil up that many steps?
It wasn’t until the 1920’s that a pully system was designed to make the job easier. Toting the oil was only one of the many jobs that had to be done. In fact, in a journal from over the years, keepers had to deal with birds damaging windows and lenses, earthquake damage, and many other weather related issues.
The view from the top was worth the climb, which was not as bad as I thought it would be.
The view looking down the staircase showed how far we had climbed. Yikes.
Touring the museum, we were fascinated with the shipbuilding section. The gentleman who was working on a replica was kind enough to show us around, taking a break from his work.
The replicas were so beautiful. You can’t imagine the hours that go into it.
Children of all ages will enjoy seeing the Lighthouse dollhouse.
For the youngest children, there are some interactive exhibits they will also probably enjoy. They must be able to climb the lighthouse with no help, so be sure they are ready for that. If they aren’t, the playground may be a better idea.
Be sure to visit the gift shop, featuring local fudge, Lighthouse wine, decor items and beautiful architectural drawings of the Lighthouse and home. We spent some time just browsing, leaving with one of the drawings.
I can’t get the fudge out of my mind, so please let me know how it is if you go! The St. Augustine Lighthouse is open from 9a.m.-6p.m. 7 days a week. Tickets are $9.75 for adults, $7.75 for children 12 and under and seniors. Visit the website for more details and special tours.
If you are looking for a hotel in St. Augustine, check out the Renaissance. We loved it! Also, check out the World Golf Hall of Fame and the Wild Reserve for more fun things to do.
Please come back and let me know about your visit!