Category Archives: In the News

Opening Soon! Legends of the Light Exhibit

Maria Andreu was keeper at the Old St. Augustine Lighthouse

Right now, the sounds of construction punctuate the Lighthouse grounds, as a new building takes shape. The Maritime Archaeology & Education Center (MAEC) will house offices, education space, a maritime archaeology center, and a new exhibit space. Behind the scenes, our Interpretation division is working with exhibit designers to create an engaging and informative exhibit detailing the history of the St. Augustine Lighthouse and the people that lived and worked there.

Maria Andreu was keeper at the Old St. Augustine Lighthouse
Maria Andreu was keeper at the Old St. Augustine Lighthouse

The new exhibit is entitled Legends of the Light with plans to open summer 2017. It will tell the stories of the lighthouse keepers and their families who called the St. Augustine Lighthouse home. Visitors will learn about the first night William Russell lit the light at the top of the tower. They will see photographs of the Old Spanish Watchtower and get to examine a model of the tower as it looked before the ocean claimed it in 1880. The exhibit also highlights the stories of Maria Andreu and Kate Harn, two keepers’ wives who themselves served as keepers at the St. Augustine Light Station after the passing of their husbands. Continue reading

WWII Era Maintenance Garage Restoration

On April 5th, the World War II-era garage here on the light station was raised by professional house movers. As part of restoring and maintaining our historic campus, the building will be converted for use as WWII Coast Guard exhibit space and for the Museum’s café. For years, soil built up around the foundation, causing moisture and termite problems that almost completely destroyed the original structural fabric. In 2008, the Museum completed some internal work to sure-up the back wall and installed a new shingle roof using replica 1940s green asphalt shingles. The 2016 work goes far deeper into the structure and it will be made as good as new by the time it re-opens to the public later this year.

The building will sit upon a new foundation slab, approximately one foot higher than the old foundation. This will prevent soil buildup and ensure the integrity of the structure for years to come. After the new foundation is poured, and utilities are installed, the moving company will lower the building onto its new home. There is a lot going on here at the Lighthouse to create new opportunities for our visitors and members and better house our existing programs. You may have noticed the new maintenance building to the south of the Visitors’ Center and the new Maritime Archaeology and Education Center on the north end of the campus. Much of the construction should be done by the middle of the summer and we look forward to opening the new buildings, exhibits, and labs to our community and patrons. Follow our activity here on the blog, on Facebook, and by visiting with us here in beautiful St. Augustine!

Click below to see the video of the raising of the WWII-era Maintenance Garage! 

Brendan Burke joined the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum in 2007 as an archaeologist for the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program. He holds a graduate degree in Anthropology from The College of William & Mary.

We’re Ready to Make a Difference in 2017!


The new year arrived with a burst of cold air (Florida winter last three whole days this year, it was tough, but we powered through!) and the promise of exciting things on the horizon.

Construction has begun on our new Maritime Archaeology & Education Center!

We’ve written before about our new Maritime Archaeology & Education Center, which is finally under construction, but we haven’t shared what this new facility will mean for us in terms of telling the stories of St. Augustine’s connections to World War II. Continue reading

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

shovels and hats



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


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.

(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.