A collection of blogs and musings from the people that work at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum - Florida's Finest Lightstation.

April 2013 Archives

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April 22, 2013

The First Woman Lighthouse Keeper, Right Here in the Nation's Oldest Port

Posted by: Chuck Meide in From the Lens Room, In the News, LAMPosts

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The original St. Augustine Lighthouse was built of coquina around the 1730s, and collapsed into the sea just three years after the present-day tower was completed in 1874. It was here that Minorcan resident Maria Andreu served as Lighthouse Keeper after her husband, the former Keeper, died in 1859.

There was a great article in the St. Augustine Record today, that also ran in Jacksonville's Florida Times-Union, about the first woman to serve as a Lighthouse Keeper in the U.S. And it happened right here, another first for America's first successful, continuously operating port city. Not surprisingly given St. Augustine's diverse heritage, this pioneer was not only the first woman but the first Hispanic woman to serve in this post, and is also considered the first Hispanic woman to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard (though at the time, the agency managing Lighthouses was known as the U.S. Lighthouse Service).

From the St. Augustine Record:

Maria Mestre de los Dolores Andreu stands out both in the annals of the U.S. Coast Guard and the federal government.

In 1859 she assumed the watch as the lighthouse keeper at St. Augustine Lighthouse after her husband, Juan, died. Maria Andreu thus became not only the first Hispanic-American woman to serve in the Coast Guard but also the first to command a federal shore installation, say officials.

Her appointment came after her husband died on the job. According to a report in the St. Augustine Examiner on Dec. 10, 1859, “Monday last … (Joseph Andreu) was engaged in white washing the tower of the Light House” when the scaffolding gave way and he fell 60 feet. He died almost instantly.

Its a really great article, one of the best I've seen on the Lighthouse, so go read the entire thing here.

April 19, 2013

Cleaning the Lighthouse

Posted by: Chuck Meide in From the Lens Room, LAMPosts

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Before and after photographs of the tower, after an outbreak of mold was cleaned in March 2013.

Historic preservation and the maintenance of historic structures is a never-ending challenge. Our team recently made a great step forward in the ongoing caretaking of the Lighthouse. Improper maintenance back in the 1970’s destroyed the surface of the brick on our keeper’s house, presenting us with a special problem today. Mold grows on the side of our tower (especially on the north side, like moss on trees) and it must be regularly cleaned. Previously, we used scaffolding or harnesses to do so, a process both expensive and dangerous. This year the maintenance team at the Lighthouse put their heads together and developed a special cleaning system, consisting of a pressure washer suspended and controlled from a series of lines running from the ground to the top of the tower. The pressurized spray of bleach and water, controlled like a marionette by our maintenance staff, worked great, and the new tower looks fabulous! Kudos to our Operations team, including Site Supervisor Brenna Ryan and Maintenance staff David Popp, Brian McNamara, and Blake Soulder, and directed by Deputy Director of Operations Rick Cain.

Click below to see some more before/after shots of the tower.

Continue reading "Cleaning the Lighthouse" »

April 17, 2013

Research Continues, Why Storm Wreck is not a “Sally”

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This listing of a 190-ton vessel named Sally, commanded by a Captain Crossgil, was discovered on a document in the British National Archives. This document listed the ships that were to be used by the British Army during the evacuation of Charleston in December 1782.

Ask any maritime archaeologist and they will candidly point out that for every hour spent diving on a shipwreck there is easily another hundred hours required to process the information one has collected. I have been living proof of this since our last major discoveries on the Storm wreck with the regimental buttons and “brown bess” land pattern muskets. If the formulae holds true, then I have spent enough time diving on the site to keep me busy for the next several years.

Continue reading "Research Continues, Why Storm Wreck is not a “Sally”" »

April 10, 2013

2013 Maritime Archaeology Field School

Posted by: Chuck Meide in Field School, LAMP Events, LAMPosts


Check out this video we made showing students in the 2010 LAMP Field School raising a cauldron from the 1782 "Storm Wreck."

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Students in the 2012 Field School preparing for another "day at the office."

The 2013 Field School in Maritime Archaeology will run from May 27 to June 21, 2013. Each year LAMP sponsors this internationally acclaimed opportunity for training in maritime and underwater archaeology. Students from universities across the U.S. and abroad will learn these specialized skills by working side by side with LAMP archaeologists. Participants will be instructed in scientific diving procedures, archaeological recording and excavation, the use of hydraulic probes and induction dredges, marine remote sensing survey and analysis (magnetometer & side scan sonar), artifact collection and documentation and basic conservation laboratory methodology. The field school will also host an evening lecture series with field school instructors and visiting professionals from various public, private and academic institutions throughout Florida.

Follow the links below for more information, or continue reading after the fold . . .

Click here to see the official webpage for the 2013 Field School, with complete information on activities, lodging, applications, paperwork, etc.

Click here to see an article on last year's field school in the Jacksonville newspaper, the Florida Times Union.

Continue reading "2013 Maritime Archaeology Field School" »

April 9, 2013

LAMP and UNF Partner in Historic Shipbuilding Class

Posted by: Brendan Burke in Education, Events, LAMP Events, LAMPosts


Almost there! Class participants (minus one student) show off their progress.

This spring LAMP has partnered with the University of North Florida to teach a class called The History of Shipbuilding. LAMP's Sam Turner teaches the Tuesday lecture and Brendan Burke teaches a Thursday lab. In the class students are learning about vessel construction from the times of the ancient Phoenicians to our nuclear navy. On Thursdays the students meet in the lab and have been working to learn how to properly construct a ship's half model. The process of learning how to build a half model is an invaluable part of learning how vessels are designed and how the complex lines of a boat interact with water, gravity, and motion. A secondary part of the class is learning to use some basic hand tools that require the user to go slowly and think about the pending accomplishment. As we are about to wrap up the class I thought I'd offer some commentary on how it has progressed.

Continue reading "LAMP and UNF Partner in Historic Shipbuilding Class" »