The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, a private nonprofit, continues the preservation of the Victorian-era Keepers’ House, built in 1876. Replacement of the wooden shingles, copper gutters, and wood soffits is currently taking place. This project is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Historical Resources and the State of Florida. Visitor admissions also help fund this project, along with ongoing preservation of other historic structures on site, including the Light Station and lens.
The historic structure is restored to the year 1888, the time period that the two summer kitchens were added to the house, and the same year that the roof to oil house of the Lighthouse was changed from wood to metal. “We are using photographic evidence from the 1880s to determine that the roof was cedar shake/shingle at the time,” explained Kathy Fleming, Executive Director of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. “This material meets the standards for historic preservation requirements, and matches our research.”
The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Keepers’ House are on the National Register of Historic Places. Thanks to the dedication of the Junior Service League of St. Augustine, Inc. (JSL), a massive preservation effort to restore the St. Augustine Light Station began in 1980 and lasted until 1995.
JSL volunteers worked with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) to perform the world’s first restoration of a Fresnel lens. The USCG considered replacement of this rare artifact with a modern airport beacon, but today, thanks to these wonderful volunteers, the Parisian porch light for St. Augustine still shines as it has for more than 144 years.
The Keepers’ House currently houses three exhibits:
At Home with the Harns in a Post Civil War Household
This exhibit shares the life and times of the first lighthouse keeper’s family to live in the Keepers’ House.
WRECKED!: The Story of a Revolutionary War Shipwreck in St. Augustine
See artifacts from a 1782 British loyalist shipwreck found right here in St. Augustine and learn how underwater archaeologists locate historic shipwrecks on the ocean floor.
Northeast Florida Shrimping: Foundation of a Global Enterprise
Find out about the modern global shrimping industry that has its roots right here in the Nation’s Oldest Port. Hear stories from the enterprising families and people that made St. Augustine the shrimping capital of the world in the mid-20th century.
For more details about the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, visit www.staugustinelighthouse.org or call 904-829-0745.