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

Public Relations

July 10, 2014

Archaeologists to Search for Lost 1565 French Fleet of Jean Ribault

Posted by: Shannon

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This July and August, archaeologists will search for a fleet of 16th century French ships that were lost in a hurricane, resulting in the establishment of a Spanish colony in St. Augustine, Fla. in 1565.

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA. – Later this July, researchers from the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum will embark on a six-week search for the lost French fleet of Jean Ribault, which sank off the Florida coast in 1565. If discovered, these ships would arguably represent the most important shipwreck sites ever discovered in U.S. waters.

If these ships hadn’t gone down in a hurricane, the entire history of the First Coast, and that of our country, would be dramatically different,” said Chuck Meide, director of the museum’s Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program and the principal investigator on this expedition. “The loss of these ships and subsequent massacre of French survivors by Spanish forces is what led to the founding of St. Augustine by Spain 450 years ago.”

Under the direction of France’s King Charles IX, Ribault led a fleet of seven ships, including his 32-gun flagship, Trinité, to the New World in 1565. One thousand French colonists, sailors, and troops came with him to bolster the French colony at Fort Caroline, near the mouth of the St. Johns River. At the same time, Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés arrived in Florida intent on destroying the French enterprise. In a preemptive strike to keep Menendez from establishing a colony in St. Augustine, Ribault sailed his four largest ships southwards, only to be struck by a hurricane which scattered and wrecked his fleet. With the loss of these ships, Fort Caroline was taken, Ribault and his men were put to the sword at Matanzas Inlet, and Spain established the first permanent settlement in the United States.

Though the French fleet has never been found, artifacts from survivor camps near the Canaveral National Seashore have given archaeologists an indication of where to search. This expedition will be the first geophysical survey ever conducted to search for these ships in the marine environment. If found these ships would be the oldest French vessels ever discovered in the United States, or anywhere else in the New World.

“This is a really exciting project for our museum and our state and federal partners,” said Kathy A. Fleming, executive director of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum. “We have done extensive research and exhibits on a number of area shipwrecks, but this one really tells the origin story of St. Augustine.”

This expedition is funded and supported by partnerships between the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP), the National Park Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the State of Florida, the Institute of Maritime History, and the Center for Historical Archaeology.

All partners involved in this historic project have leveraged their joint resources including expertise, equipment and funding to make the expedition possible. This project has been financed in part with historic preservation grant assistance provided by the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Division of Historical Resources, Florida Department of State, assisted by the Florida Historical Commission and a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (NOAA OER). The search has been tapped as one of NOAA OER’s signature expeditions for 2014.

The National Park Service’s Southeast Archaeological Center (SEAC) and Submerged Resources Center (SRC) are providing additional resources and support to the LAMP team and will be actively participating in the research. The search will be conducted from a research vessel provided by the Institute of Maritime History, and will use historical research undertaken in the French archives by the co-principal investigator on the expedition, Dr. John de Bry of the Center for Historical Archaeology in Melbourne, Fla.

To safeguard these archaeological sites, which are protected from molestation or looting by law, the specific locations of discovered shipwrecks and/or artifacts will not be disclosed via media or other means. Very few artifacts will be removed from any shipwreck sites discovered, and then only temporarily for documentation before being returned to their original location on or under the seafloor.

Results of the survey and search will be released after the expedition concludes in August. Information and updates will be available on the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum blog located at http://staugustinelighthouse.org.

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June 17, 2014

45 Scholarships Awarded to Local Students for Lighthouse Summer Camp

Posted by: Shannon

Thanks to several community partners, the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum awarded 45 scholarships to St. Johns County students for the Lighthouse Ancient City Explorers Summer Camp.

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA. – Excited chatter filled the 140 year-old tower at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum on Tuesday morning as students ascended 219 steps to the top. The museum’s Lighthouse Ancient City Explorers Summer Camp is in full swing, with six weeks of camp programming scheduled for June and July. This year, 45 at-risk students from St. Johns County will experience camp for the first time thanks to fundraising support from the local community.

“We are so thankful for all of the fundraising support and donations received from the St. Augustine community,” said the museum’s Executive Director Kathy A. Fleming. “From online contributions like the Sertoma Club’s Indiegogo campaign to the countless folks who have dropped off craft supplies, so many people have helped make this camp possible for our local students.”

Nearly 100 students, grades K-5, will attend camp over four weeks in June and July. Each week will highlight a different segment of St. Augustine culture including British, Menorcan and African-American heritage. In addition to discovering maritime culture at the lighthouse, students will also explore other historic St. Augustine sites and enjoy a sailing excursion onboard the Schooner Freedom.

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Through their Indiegogo campaign, the St. Augustine Sertoma Club raised more than $4,500 for the Steve Senecal Scholarship Fund. The fund will provide around 27 scholarships for summer camp as well as the holiday and spring break camps also hosted by the museum. Scholarships are awarded by the St. Johns County School District to recipients who show academic promise, but lack the financial means to attend camp.

Other community partners who contributed to the museum’s 2014 summer camp programs include the Barbara A. Kay Foundation, Diane’s Natural Food Market, Old Town Trolleys, the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations, the St. Johns County Education Foundation, Baker Pest Control and Chick-Fil-A.

In addition to providing students with science, technology, engineering, arts and math experiences, the museum’s camp program also provides snacks and lunches for campers. For many local students who rely on free or reduced lunch programs to receive meals during the school year, this fulfills a critical need.

Beginning July 14th, the museum will also offer two sessions of ship modeling camp for older students who have completed grades 5 – 8. This unique camp combines elements of history and architecture. Volunteers from the museum’s traditional wooden boatworks and ship modeling group will assist students with interactive projects during each week-long session. Scholarships from this camp were provided by the Barbara A. Kay Foundation.

“We are so excited to provide these opportunities for St. Augustine students to experience the culture of our area,” said Fleming. “Summer camp is such a fun experience we all remember fondly from our childhood. We love creating the same great camp memories for new students.”

Openings are still available for the last two sessions of Lighthouse Ancient City Explorers Summer Camp (June 23 – 27; July 7 – 11) and both sessions of ship modeling camp (July 14 – 18; July 21-25). To sign your child up or make a donation to support camp programming, visit www.staugustinelighthouse.org.

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ABOUT THE ST. AUGUSTINE LIGHTHOUSE & MUSEUM:
A pivotal navigation tool and unique landmark of St. Augustine for over 140 years, the St. Augustine Light Station is host to centuries of history in the Nation’s Oldest PortSM. Through interactive exhibits, guided tours and maritime research, the 501(c)3 non-profit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum is on a mission to preserve, present and keep alive the story of the Nation’s Oldest Port SM as symbolized by our working lighthouse. We are the parent organization to the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.

August 8, 2012

St. Augustine Lighthouse Listed Among Nation's Top Lighthouses

Posted by: Chuck Meide

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The Weather Channel just released their list of the top eleven lighthouses in the country as their celebration of our nation's lighthouses for National Lighthouse Day, August 7th. The top choices were chosen by the Weather Channel's Facebook fans, and after tallying hundreds of votes the St. Augustine Lighthouse was listed in the top eleven in the country! Congratulations to the staff of the Lighthouse and LAMP for their part in making our Lighthouse such a great place to visit!

February 3, 2012

Get behind the scenes...

Posted by: Brendan Burke

Jacksonville.com published a nice piece about our behind the scenes tours here at the Museum. If you haven't take one of the tours, they are well worth it. See how the museum works, how we are learning about our past from artifacts buried in the seafloor, and learn about the many things which go on behind the veil to keep our history alive and exciting. Even if you have visited the lighthouse before, or recently, come back for this experience. Visit our webpage too, for more information on how to get involved, for more on our other tours and opportunities, and learn how to contribute to our museum. Read on for more information!

CLICK HERE for the link.

Many thanks to Dan Scanlan for this nice article!

October 26, 2009

Judyth Piazza chats with Brendan Burke

Posted by: Brendan Burke

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The replica Nina after arrival to St. Augustine.

Remember the arrival of the Nina and Pinta here in St. Augustine on May 9th? Judyth Piazza and her radio show The American Perspective on the Student Operated Press (theSOP.com) interviewed LAMP's Brendan Burke that day and the interview has recently posted. Click the link below to follow to theSOP.com's website and listen!

CLICK HERE

October 3, 2009

Radio show highlights Lighthouse & LAMP!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

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Back on July 25, Kathy Fleming (Executive Director of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum) and myself woke up pretty early on a Saturday to join Matt Jeffs, a local radio celebrity on 1240 AM WFOY whose morning show Airborne with Matt Jeffs is really fun to listen to. He has all kinds of interesting speakers from the St. Augustine region, and at least once a month he has on a local archaeologist. Apparently Kathy and I have faces that were built for radio, because not only is this broadcast out on the airwaves, but via a webcam it is broadcast on the internet. We talked about all of the great programs at the Lighthouse and gave an update on the shipwreck LAMP was excavating over the summer months, complete with a bucket full of wet artifacts . . . you can watch the whole thing below!

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March 31, 2008

04/15/08 Public Meeting for National Maritime Heritage Area

Posted by: Kathy Fleming

National Maritime Heritage Area Workshop

HOSTS
GUANA TOLOMATO MATANZAS NATIONAL ESTUARINE RESEARCH RESERVE
ST. AUGUSTINE LIGHTHOUSE & MUSEUM, INC.
LIGHTHOUSE ARCHAEOLOGICAL MARITIME PROGRAM
SEA GRANT ASSOCIATION
ST. JOHNS COUNTY/PLANNING DIVISION/HISTORIC RESOURCES


Please join us for a National Heritage Area Feasibility Workshop
(Feel free to bring a brown bag lunch.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - 12:30 pm until 5:00 pm
GTM NERR Environmental Education Center
505 Guana River Road
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida 32080


RSVP requested by April 11, 2008
Contact Pam Troll at 904-829-0745, ext 224 or
ptroll@staugustinelighthouse.com


August 6, 2007

LAMP Research Gets Good Press!

Posted by: Chuck Meide

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Since the start of this years fieldwork (July 1), LAMP archaeologists have been working hard to implement the inaugural season of the First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project. This major program of research and public archaeology was made possible by a Special Category historical preservation grant from the State of Florida's Division of Historical Resources. Part of our mission is to spread the word about our work and the rich maritime history of Florida's First Coast, and one of the most effective ways to do this is through widespread media exposure. With the help of Beau, the Lighthouse's public relations expert, we have received some great press lately.

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July 10, 2007

Around the World in 80 Days!

Posted by: Beau Phillips

I know that one is already taken, but that's what it feels like. Right now I'm in... Palm Beach? Vero Beach? No that was last night. Ft. Lauderdale's tomorrow, Boca Raton! I'm in Boca Raton -- Absolutely -- and we're just making sure that people down in the southern hemisphere of Florida remember where the oldest port in the nation is. Its a good thing I did too, most of the people that we've spoken too haven't been to St. Augustine in a few years. Sounds like it's time for another trip and what's a trip to St. Augustine without coming to the Lighthouse. "What's an incomplete trip; I'll take blogs that sound like advertisements for a 1,000 Alex."

OK, OK, so I'm still in a little bit of a salesman mode, but its easy to be a seller when your a believer. You want a vacation to the beach, we got beach. How about upscale and elegant? These are principals developed by Henry Flagler and continued today by the Casa Monica, Castillo Real, and the World Golf Village -- come on this is easy. There is Guana Tolomato Matanzas Na... the GTMNERR and Anastasia State Park if your interested in eco-traveling, and for the heritage traveler St. Augustine is a must see U.S. destination. We've got it all baby, so come on down or up, as the case may be, and check us out.

This advertisement was paid for and endorsed by the City of St. Augustine and the St. Augustine Lig... I had you going too.

April 8, 2007

Live at the Masters!

Posted by: Beau Phillips

Here at the St. Augustine Lighthouse it is a little chilly this Easter Sunday morning; (and by the way Happy Easter!) however, none of that matters because its Sunday at the Masters.

For golf enthusiasts - check that - for those who are sports fans you already know how great a day this is. Happy Easter indeed! For those who are not I won’t try to explain it in the condescending way guys often do, Instead I’ll just tell you its tradition, pageantry, emotion, excitement, and arguably the best sporting event every year. Why am I writing about it? Because it is everywhere, and to steal a line from Tony the Tiger it’s Grrrrreeeaaaat!.

A golf tournament steeped in Tradition that has historically been resistant to change is leading the way in live sports entertainment. Visit Masters.org and you’ll get to watch the most exclusive golf tournament from several different perspectives for free.

February 11, 2007

First Trip to the Big Apple

Posted by: Beau Phillips

So I went on my first ever trip to the Big Apple this week, and I tried to take a big bite. Unfortunately, it was frozen solid.
It wasn’t even the good kind of cold there was no snow, it was just face numbing, wear so many clothes you are bound to look like the Michelin Tire Man cold. However, even that can’t keep a good man down, numb face and all I still visited Central Park, Ground Zero, Times Square (aka - the center of the universe),
NYC Center of the Universe
Rockefeller Center,
Top of the Rock NYC
and even rode the Subway. I think I walked more in three days in NYC than I have in the three years I’ve lived on the First Coast.
Oh yeah, I also got some work done. We (Dr. Sam Turner [Director of Archaeology LAMP) and I] represented the Lighthouse at a reception hosted by St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, and the Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau. We met dozens of travel writers… Exactly, tell them a little about us and then ask them what a person with one day in NYC must do before they leave. Who would know better what there is to do than a travel writer?
Believe it or not I actually listened, Hey Robert, Jimmy’s Corner was great! To help those who haven’t been yet or for those going back, what is on your must do list in NYC?


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