Chris J LeBlanc Photography - Lighthouses
Providing details and historical information of lighthouse pictures taken during my travels
St Augustine Lighthouse
St Augustine, Florida
© 2011 - Chris J LeBlanc Photographer
Location: Located at 81 Lighthouse Avenue, St Augustine, FL.
Latitude: N 29.88546
Longitude: W 81.28846
Year Constructed: 1874 (Paul J. Pelz) Active
Tower Height: 165 feet Focal Plane: 161 feet
Brick tower, painted in a black-and-white spiral similar to Cape Hatteras Light; lantern painted red; original rotating 1st order Fresnel lens.
- Station Established: 1821
- Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1874
- Foundation Materials: BRICK ON COQUINA
- Construction Materials: BRICK
- Tower Height: 52 feet (1st); 165 feet (2nd)
- Tower Shape: CONICAL ATTACHED TO STORAGE BLDG.
- Markings/Pattern: BLACK/WHITE SPIRAL BANDS W/RED LANTERN
- Original Lens: First Order Fresnel, 1874
- 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 was the leading port in the newly acquired Territory of Florida, the U.S. Government worked quickly to establish a light to mark the inlet. In 1824, a new brick tower, rising to a height of seventy-three feet, was placed in service. The light was extinguished shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War. The tower remained dark until after the conflict ended, and by that time, it was clearly evident that erosion was endangering the tower. It was determined that a new lighthouse was needed and a five-acre tract, located a half-mile inland, was acquired.
Plans for the new lighthouse were drawn up by Paul Pelz, Chief Draftsman of the Lighthouse Board and who would later be one of two architects responsible for designing the Library of Congress. Construction on the lighthouse began in 1871, but the walls had grown to a height of just a few feet when funds were exhausted. Work resumed after additional funding was obtained, and the lighthouse commenced operation on October 15, 1874. The tower was built using brick from Alabama, granite from Georgia, iron work forged in Philadelphia, and a first-order Fresnel lens crafted in France.
Constructing the new lighthouse proved to be a prudent move as the old tower toppled into the sea on August 22, 1880.
Historic Postcard of St Augustine Lighthouse from 1910s
St Augustine Lighthouse Links
Historic Postcard of the First St Augustine Lighthouse