St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum Hosts Annual Night Fest on Saturday

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In conjunction with the Junior Service League’s Lighthouse 5K and Fun Run, the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum will be open free to the public on Saturday evening for Night Fest.

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL. – Continuing the long partnership between the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum and the Junior Service League of St. Augustine, the Lighthouse will host its annual Night Fest celebration sponsored by Herbie Wiles Insurance, Harbor Community Bank and MINT Magazine on Saturday, March 7, in conjunction with the JSL’s Lighthouse 5K and Fun Run.

“We love working with the JSL on this great community event,” said Kathy A. Fleming, Executive Director of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum. “Night Fest is a celebration of the lighthouse’s history and legacy that the whole family can really enjoy.”

lighthouse glowThe light station will open free to all guests beginning at 4:00 p.m. and the race starts at 5:30 p.m. Visitors are invited to explore exhibits in the keepers’ house and climb the 219 steps to the top of the Lighthouse for a spectacular sunset view of St. Augustine. During the event, kids can enjoy face and hair painting, tattoos, crafts and a scavenger hunt. Hot dogs, sodas, beer and other refreshments will also be available for purchase.

Members of the Junior Service League led a massive community effort to restore to the St. Augustine Light Station in the 1980’s after arson and years of neglect left the grounds in disrepair. Continue reading

The Secret Behind a Storm Wreck X-Ray

When concretions are brought up from the Storm Wreck excavation site, they are documented meticulously. This is to in order to record the location and any possible relation to surrounding artifacts and the site as a whole.

However, unless there are some very telling diagnostics or features, it’s usually very tough to tell what the concretion actually is. For this, we take the concretions to get X-rayed.

A two-legged mystery

Artifact 234 came out of the 2012 LAMP field season.

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It was taken to Flagler Hospital to be X-rayed. In the ensuing images, it was possible to see three different types of artifacts. There were small lead birdshot (shown as the bright white dots), an iron spike (the bottom half of the image) and an intriguing two-legged artifact (the top half of the image). Continue reading

Lighthouse Museum Announces New Spring Break Camp

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St. Johns County students are in for a treat this spring break at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum’s new science and history themed camp March 17th – 19th.

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA. – Change your children’s perspective on history with three days of hands-on history at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum. After years of successful summer camp programming, the museum has extended its educational offerings with a new spring break camp for students grades K-5, scheduled for March 17th to 19th from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. each day.

“Sharing the history of not just the light station, but St. Augustine and the rest of the Nation’s Oldest PortSM, is at the heart of what we do,” said Executive Director Kathy A. Fleming. “We are thrilled to offer this new opportunity for local students to make spring break a little more exciting by spending some time with us and learning more about the city we live in.”

DSCN5273Each day of the camp will feature a different theme highlighting part of St. Augustine’s 450 years of history. From the city’s ties to the French Huguenots to British sailors to the birth of a new industry under Henry Flagler, students will get a feel for the different cultures of St. Augustine. Activities will include boating basics, science experiments, art projects and of course a climb to the top of the 140 year-old St. Augustine Lighthouse. Continue reading

Flipping the Yawl Boat

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Thursday, February 19th, was a bright and beautiful sunny morning. It was also the coldest we have had in St. Augustine this winter with one Lighthouse neighbor observing 31⁰ F on his thermometer during the early morning hours. It seems a little much however, to be complaining about the weather in Florida while the rest of the country is blown and battered by record low temperatures. Regardless, the big news on this particular morning was not the weather. The big news today was the flipping of the yawl boat that has been under construction since 2009.

During the building process the boat has been flipped on a number of different occasions. This one has particular importance as a mile stone because the yawl has been completely planked, had its planking seams caulked with cotton, and had the same seams primed and then paid with a seam compound to keep the caulking in place. And last but not least, two coats of primer paint have been lovingly applied to the entire exterior of the hull. Continue reading

Lighthouse History 1894 – 1914

This fourth installment in our ongoing series on the history of the St. Augustine Lighthouse focuses on the tenure of Joseph Rantia and the arrival of our longest serving head keeper Peter Rasmusson.

Click the links below to read previous posts in the series:

1894-1914

Promoted from 1st Assistant upon William Harn’s death, Joseph Rantia (often spelled Ranty) served as head keeper of the St. Augustine Lighthouse from 1889 to 1901, a span almost as long as Harn’s 14-year term. Rantia was a descendant of the Menorcans of New Smyrna like the Andreus and many other St. Augustine lighthouse keepers before him.

Rantia Family Tragedy

At 9:00 p.m. on September 23, 1894, tragedy struck the Rantia family when Joseph’s wife Mary died. Joseph carried on working at the lighthouse and the Keepers’ Log records the continuous labor required to keep the lighthouse maintained and operational.

The log is filled with reports of the keepers painting some part of the light station. The lighting and clockwork mechanisms often required repair and maintenance. This was, of course, in addition to the nightly duties required to keep the light operational.

Keeper Swap

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Hunting Island Lighthouse where Joseph Rantia transferred to replace Peter Rasmusson as head keeper

In 1901, after 12 years at the St. Augustine Lighthouse, Joseph Rantia transferred to Hunting Island Lighthouse outside Beaufort, SC.

Rantia took the place of Peter Rasmusson who in turn transferred here and began the longest tenure as head keeper at the St. Augustine Lighthouse, staying 23 years in the position. When he arrived, Rasmusson was making $720 a year. Continue reading