Category Archives: In the News

Lighthouse Breaks Ground on Maritime Archaeology & Education Center

Ground Breaking Ceremony

A new facility at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum will replace temporary spaces to provide a permanent, handicap-accessible home for maritime research and education programs.

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL. – With 450 years of maritime history sitting off St. Augustine’s shores awaiting discovery, the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is looking toward the future for space to save the past. Through funds raised in the nonprofit museum’s most recent capital campaign, as well as a grant from the State of Florida, the Lighthouse broke ground on a new Maritime Archaeology & Education Center today.

“This new building is going to be an excellent asset not just for our Museum, but for the community as a whole,” said Executive Director Kathy A. Fleming. “The handicap accessible education space and room for archaeological research will help us continue to discover St. Augustine’s maritime past and share it with future generations through new exhibits and educational programs.”

Ground Breaking Ceremony

Guests at the ceremony included St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver, State Representative Cyndi Stevenson, representatives from the office of Senator Marco Rubio, and building architect Steven Schuyler. Along with Fleming, Board of Trustees Vice Chairman Capt. Bob Buehn, U.S. Navy retired, spoke to the assembled crowd about the decade of planning that has gone into this new state-of-the-art facility.

The 2,500 square foot structure will include an artifact conservation lab, offices for the Museum’s archaeology program and handicap accessible public exhibit and education space. This will allow for the Museum’s Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) to move out of the World War II-era U.S. Coast Guard Barracks at the Light Station so that the 1940’s structure can be restored and turned into exhibit space.

building blue print

To date, the Museum’s capital campaign has raised over $2.4 million for restoration, programs, and exhibits, of which approximately $863,260 is earmarked specifically for the new building. This includes provisions for an X-ray room where archaeologists can see inside concreted shipwreck artifacts to determine the best course of conservation and space for restoring these artifacts. Additionally, the facility will provide a much-needed indoor area for the Museum’s educational programs that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

This project is also sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Department of Arts and Culture, and the State of Florida. The State provided the Museum with a $150,000 cultural facilities grant to use toward the building. Additional federal grant support was provided by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.

A number of private donors contributed to the research center as well, including The Lastinger Family Foundation, Gasper and Irene Lazzara, Jerry and Janet Carlisle, LTC Lee McConkey, The PGA Tour, Inc., Trustee Emeritus Judy Burnett Albright, Charles Cox, and Wright Timothy Jackson.

The Museum still needs approximately $130,000 to complete the campaign. Donors can become part of the Lighthouse Legacy through one of several naming opportunities still available. More information can be found online at staugustinelighthouse.org.

shovels and hats

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ABOUT THE ST. AUGUSTINE LIGHTHOUSE & MARITIME 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 & Maritime Museum is on a mission to discover, preserve, present and keep alive the stories of the Nation’s Oldest PortSM 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.  

St. Augustine Native Ed Long Receives 2016 Florida Folk Heritage Award

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The State of Florida presented local resident and former shrimp boat captain Ed Long with an award honoring his efforts to preserve the history of St. Augustine’s shrimping and boatbuilding industries.

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL. – In 81 years, St. Augustine resident James Edwin “Ed” Long has witnessed a lot of change in his hometown. From 1951 until the 1990s, Long worked in the shrimping and shrimp boat building industry. Today, he is a keeper of that industry’s history and has worked long and hard to make sure it has received proper attention for its financial, global, and community contributions. Thanks to Long’s efforts, future generations can experience this chapter in St. Augustine history. Long saved thousands of photos, boat models, stories and other ephemera, now preserved in the collections of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum and part of an exhibit on the history of shrimping.

For his efforts Long was recently awarded the 2016 Florida Folk Heritage Award by the Florida Department of State. At a ceremony attended by Long’s family, friends and colleagues, State Historic Preservation Officer Tim Parsons and State Folklorist Amanda Hardeman presented Long with the award. The Florida Folk Heritage Award is bestowed upon the state’s most influential tradition bearers for excellence, significance and authenticity.

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(Left to Right) State Folklorist Amanda Hardeman, Director of Interpretive Division Brenda Swann, Ed Long, State Historic Preservation Officer Tim Parsons, and Maritime Historian Brendan Burke.

“So much of St. Augustine’s economy and culture was influenced by the shrimping and boatbuilding industries that thrived here throughout much of the 20th century,” said Brenda Swann, Director of the Interpretive Division of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. “We are so grateful that Ed had the foresight to save so many artifacts and other pieces that will ensure the stories from this particular part of St. Augustine’s past will never be forgotten.”

Long began his nautical career in 1951 at the Salvador Marina. After a serving as a tank mechanic for the National Guard, Long returned to the maritime world with a job at Diesel Engine Sales Co. (DESCO), St. Augustine’s largest shrimp boat builder. As the industry started to slow down during the 1980s, Long recognized a need to capture a historic moment in time when St. Augustine was the largest producer of fishing vessels in the world, a role that served 23 countries and involved thousands of vessels.

“I started making notes and interviewing captains, crew, dockworkers, fishermen and their families,” said Long. “I knew time was running out to get it down on paper.”

Many of the stories and photos Long collected are also featured in the book “Shrimp Boat City: 100 Years of Catching Shrimp and Building Boats in the Nation’s Oldest City” which he co-authored with Brendan Burke, Maritime Historian at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum.

“I felt the book had to be written,” said Long. “I did what I could to capture part of history.”

The Folk Heritage Awards are part of the Florida Folklife Program, a component of the Florida Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources. The folklife program, established in 1979, serves to document and present Florida’s folklife, folklore and folk arts through a wide range of activities designed to increase the awareness of Florida’s traditional culture with residents and visitors alike. It is one of the oldest state folk arts programs in the nation.

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Statement Against Isolated Finds Legislation

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On behalf of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, our Executive Director Kathy A. Fleming stands with our colleagues at the Florida Association of Museums against the Isolated Finds Legislation that is currently under consideration by the Florida Legislature.

Here is the official statement from FAM:

FAM LogoThe Florida Association of Museums (FAM) represents over 400 art, history, science, and children museums in the state from the very smallest to the largest. As repositories of our cultural heritage in Florida, FAM opposes the passage of HB 803 and SB 1054, “An Act Relating to Historic and Archaeological Artifacts,” currently being considered by the Florida Legislature. If HB 803 and SB 1054 were to pass, the consequences could endanger archaeological sites all over the state and impact the integrity of Florida’s historic record and cultural heritage.

We believe that archaeological artifacts should be left in the natural environment, however there are times that progress will disrupt those areas. In those cases, experts and professionals are brought in to research, photograph, record, and interpret that particular artifact/s – that way the history can be explained and told when displayed.

There is a fundamental problem with this proposed legislation — it allows private entities and individuals to remove and take title to archeological “finds” from the state’s sovereign submerged lands with a state-issued annual permit. Many times artifacts are found close to other artifacts from the same historical period. Allowing an individual to take a single object without requiring a deeper examination of the site at which the item was found could damage the site and do irreparable harm to the archaeological and historical record. Once removed those artifacts have lost all historical context – making them of little use for future interpretation.

The potential impact for our Museum

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Field school student Jonathan Kozack holds an artifact recovered from the 1782 British Loyalist wreck that will be documented in the upcoming Wrecked! exhibition.

As we prepare to launch our new exhibition, Wrecked!, later this spring, we are also reaching the pinnacle of more than six years of excavation, research, and conservation. Through our careful, scientific process, we have recovered and recorded more than 600 artifacts from a 1782 British Loyalist shipwreck located just off St. Augustine’s coast.

Each of these artifacts carries with it a piece of the story behind this wreck. This story that belongs to all of us, as it is part of our collective history. This story stitches together pieces of crucial U.S. history with St. Augustine’s own unique role North America’s past.

This is the story of our ancestors and without the precise recovery and research conducted by our team, this part of our collective heritage would still remain in the ocean’s shadows.

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Pieces like this watch face, also recovered from the 1782 British Loyalist shipwreck, could be lost forever if the Isolated Finds Legislation is passed.
The isolated finds legislation endangers our ability to conduct scientific, historic research in St. Augustine. Artifacts like the ones we have been carefully working to save for future generations could be lost forever.

What can you do?

The Isolated Finds Legislation, HB 803 and SB 1054, will be returning for debate to the Florida Legislation next year.

Please stand with us and let your local representatives know that you support museums and archaeological programs like ours.

Let your representatives know that you want to preserve Florida’s history for the future!

Kathy A. Fleming
Executive Director
St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum

Lighthouse to Participate in International Radio Event This Weekend

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Four hundred and six lighthouses from around the world will participate in International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend from August 14th to 16th including the St. Augustine Lighthouse.

StAugustine-Lighthouse-tiltshift-WillBarnwellST. AUGUSTINE, FLA. –The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum will join 406 lighthouses from 85 different countries for International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW) August 14th to 16th with support from members of the St. Augustine Amateur Radio Society (SAARS).

“We always enjoy participating in this worldwide event,” said Executive Director Kathy A. Fleming. “It brings together so many groups of people who are passionate about the history and care of our historic lighthouses. We appreciate all the volunteers from the St. Augustine Amateur Radio Society who help us connect with the world and share the story of our Lighthouse.” Continue reading

Lighthouse Completes Preservation Project With Support from Dr. Guy Harvey

The nonprofit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum recently finished a $280,000 restoration project with help from state funds, grants and a crowd-funding partnership with Dr. Guy Harvey.

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA. – St. Augustine’s most iconic landmark is looking brighter than ever following the completion of a three month, $280,000 preservation project to restore and protect the St. Augustine Lighthouse. State grants and appropriations, a grant from the Florida Lighthouse Association and crowd funding fueled by a limited edition Guy Harvey T-shirt helped the nonprofit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum cover the professional labor and over 200 gallons of paint needed to give the Lighthouse its first facelift in a decade.

“Without the support of our state government representatives, the Florida Lighthouse Association and, of course, our fantastic St. Augustine community, we would not have been able to complete this critical restoration project,” said Executive Director Kathy A. Fleming. “We’re also very appreciative of Dr. Harvey and his team at the Guy Harvey Foundation for putting together a great-looking T-shirt design for the campaign!”

TShirt DesignHarvey, a marine biologist known for his nautical paintings of marine life, created a limited edition T-shirt design featuring the iconic lighthouse tower accented by tall ship silhouettes and a yellow fin tuna. The limited edition shirt was made available through the campaign for donors who gave at the $100 contribution level through the crowd funding website indiegogo.com.

In total, the Lighthouse raised $12,230 toward the restoration project from the online campaign.  Paint cans were also placed at local businesses around St. Augustine which, combined with extra donations on site and a fall appeal campaign, totaled an additional $13,566. Continue reading