Category Archives: In the News

Statement Against Isolated Finds Legislation


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

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.

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


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

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

Ship Builder’s Legacy Lives On Through Lighthouse Volunteers

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Volunteers at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum completed a ship model of the HMS Victory that was started by Jim McNally and donated to the museum by his wife, Katie, after his passing. 

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA. – It all began in 2012, with a generous donation and a public plea in The St. Augustine Record. What happened next tied together the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, a group of passionate volunteers and the legacy of craftsman James G. “Jim” McNally.

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Ship model volunteer Sue Callahm works on the HMS Victory

On Thursday, April 16th, the story will write its final chapter as McNally’s last project is unveiled at a private reception in the Museum courtyard.

“It is truly an honor for the Lighthouse to be part of this project,” said Executive Director Kathy A. Fleming. “As a maritime museum, we utilize these beautiful ship models to give our visitors an up-close look at the historic vessels of our ancestors. But there is so much behind each model, and in this case the story goes beyond just that of the HMS Victory to include Jim’s passion for ships as well as the dedication of our volunteers.” Continue reading

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